Michael Kinsley used to say that a “Washington scandal” is when a politician speaks an incovenient truth in public. It turns out that the definition must now be extended to include London.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was unaware that he still was wearing an open mike when he spoke about a woman he had just met. She had attacked him for not doing enough about all the immigrants coming to the UK. He politely pointed out that about one million immigrants come each year from Europe to the UK and a like number make the trip the other way. Once he got inside his car, he was upset by the encounter, and he said the woman was “bigoted.” After the clip made the airwaves, the Prime Minister apologized to the woman.
I wish he hadn’t. I wish he had used the occasion to stick to his guns and to say, yes, there is a great deal of bigotry involved in the discussion of immigrants, both in Britain and elsewhere. The Prime Minister spoke the truth. Where is the scandal in that?
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