02nd May 2010

Duffy-gate and Goffman’s front/back

Astute students of the media will not, no doubt, have overlooked the significance of Gordon Brown’s ‘bigoted woman’ gaffe. In these days of omnipresent media exposure and intrusion, it’s no wonder that the protruding cameras and - more often – the straying microphones occasionally reveal the two Goffmanian faces (front and back) of our most prominent public figures.

But as PR disasters go, this one was especially disasterous. And despite the best attempts of Brown and other senior Labourites to kill the story, Duffy-gate may turn out to be the defining moment in this election campaign. Forget the instantly forgettable leaders’ debates, the manifesto promises, the carefully stage-managed speeches. This one, brief encounter – which, incidentally, was intended to be yet another photo-opportunity for our ‘common-man PM’ – has blown Brown out of the running to be the next PM, even if a Labour government of sorts (no doubt with Lib Dem backing) defeats the Tories at the ballot box.

And the outcome of Duffy-gate? Mrs Duffy is not going to vote – and nor, by the way, am I.

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