What Gordon Brown did was to insult a quintessential Labour supporter for expressing opinions that are probably held by three quarters of the white working class core vote. That is a whole different ballgame – and its consequences are likely to be irreversible.
It’s one thing to insult people who won’t vote for you anyway, as Barack Obama did Joe the Plumber and all of those gun- and Bible-toting people he looked down on during the 2008 campaign (and still does, no doubt.) But to refer to a member of your “base” as a “bigot” is a quick way to alienate your base. Working class Brits have been Labour’s core since the party began a century ago; to turn them off to Labour could have the same result as the ’60’s radicals did to the “Reagan Democrats” thirty years ago.
And look how long it’s taken for the Democrat party to recover from that. But the success of “New Labour” and Barack Obama have cultivated short memories amongst elites on both sides of the Atlantic.