Gordon Brown may have torpedoed his last chance to be prime minister in his own right when, in the privacy of his limo, he called 66-year-old Gillian Duffy that "bigoted woman."
What had widow Duffy done to deserve the slur?
After taking the Labor Party leader to task for several minutes, Mrs. Duffy raised the immigration issue -- "These Eastern Europeans, where are they all flocking from?"
Brown responded that a million East Europeans had entered Britain, but a million Britons had emigrated to the continent.
The exchange over, Duffy was pleased with having been televised with the prime minister and said she would vote for Brown. Until, that is, she was told that Brown, overheard on a microphone he was wearing but forgot about, called her that "bigoted woman."
The shock on Mrs. Duffy's face showed genuine pain.
That the episode was disastrous for Brown even he agrees. But it raises a larger question. Who is the real bigot here?
Assume Duffy is upset that millions of East Europeans strangers and Third World peoples have moved into her country and neighborhood, and she wishes she had back the Britain she grew up in.
Is that bigotry? And, if so, why?
In his last year as prime minister, Winston Churchill, concerned that an influx from the Caribbean would turn Britain into what he called a "magpie society," identified immigration as "the most important subject facing this country" and, according to Harold Macmillan, wanted the Tories to adopt a policy and slogan of "Keep Britain White!"
If this makes Churchill and Mrs. Duffy bigots, are the Japanese all bigots because they refuse to allow immigration? Countries all over the world restrict or forbid the kind of mass immigration we and Europe have embraced.
Does the desire of a people to preserve its unique and separate ethnic identity and cultural character, de facto, constitute bigotry?
Are the Israelis bigots because Bibi Netanyahu demands that in any peace agreement with Palestinians it be stipulated that Israel shall forever remain a Jewish nation? Are the Muslim Uighurs and Tibetans bigots because they want to end the migration of Han Chinese into their homelands, secede from China and set up ethnonational states of their own: East Turkestan and Tibet?
If "Africa for the Africans" was a wonderful slogan in the 1950s, why is "Britain for the Britons" a bigoted idea today?