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If this election is about character, Gordon Brown's actions yesterday showed that he is doomed

Bigotgate front pages Gordon Brown

Today's front pages are every bit the disaster for Gordon Brown and Labour that you would expect the day after he was found to have described a 65-year-old Labour-voting widow as "bigoted".

And this morning it seems appropriate to reflect briefly on a speech Gordon Brown made just seven weeks ago - about the choice facing the country at the general election. As the Scotsman reported on 11th March:

"In a major speech in the City, the Prime Minister set out a clear message that the election would centre on his personal character, integrity and ability to steer the UK through the "stormy waters of the economic crisis".

"In an election set to be dominated by the first television debates of the major party leaders, Mr Brown hopes that his experience and actions will win the day against the untested David Cameron."

Brown's record on the economy will come under scrutiny from David Cameron at tonight's leader's debate, and we'll be covering that on ConHome later in the day. But for now, if Brown wants to be judged on his personal character, integrity and actions as unwittingly put on public display yesterday, I can do little but conclude that he is doomed.

The Prime Minister said himself in that speech in March:

"It is for other people to judge but I believe that character is not about telling people what they want to hear but about telling them what they need to know... For better or for worse, with me what you see is what you get."

And therein lies the problem for Brown. His unguarded outburst about Mrs Duffy demonstrated that what you see is most certainly not what you get.

I blogged yesterday afternoon that the significance of the incident was that it put on public display his duplicity, his tendency to blame others when things go wrong and the contempt which he evidently has for millions of voters.

Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun this morning agrees that the veneer came down and the Prime Minister has inadvertently shown his true colours to the wider public:

"This was the authentic Gordon Brown - thin-skinned, paranoid and perpetually on the hunt for someone else to blame. This is the Chancellor who made life hell for Tony Blair and every political friend or foe who stepped in his path. It is the phone-throwing, pen-stabbing raging bull disturbingly portrayed in Andrew Rawnsley's prophetic book The End of the Party."

As Rawnsley himself writes in today's Guardian:

"It will be rightly taken as evidence of the less attractive dimensions of his personality. Note that it happens because he stresses over the trivial and becomes infuriated by anything or anybody that disturbs his idea of himself as a man in iron control. Mrs Duffy was far from the most tricky customer ever to confront a politician. In fact, he dealt with the initial encounter reasonably well. She even said she was going to vote Labour. Calling it "a disaster" was an over-reaction to a fairly humdrum moment on the campaign trail. We see also a glimpse of Brown's tendency to instantly assign fault for a setback to someone else."

And I can sum up the incident no better than Rawnsley, who concludes:

"Brown's problem is that this episode shows him acting not out of character, but entirely in it."

Jonathan Isaby