I too am a repentant sinner. I have encountered voters over the years who have annoyed me. I would wish to apologise to them. I remember fighting my first General Election in 1979 in Warrington. I had a series of early morning phone calls from anti abortionists asking what it was like to be a baby killer. Fortunately I was not wired for sound when I put the phone down.
I have been angrily accosted in the street by people who disagreed with Paddy's policy of honouring our obligations to Hong Kong residents after the hand over to China.
On the door step in this election I have been harangued about immigration without having even opened my mouth. Sometimes the next thing out of their mouths is a torrent of openly racists abuse. It doesn't happen very often but when it does the raw naked aggression is quite frightening. I have taken to adopting the strategy that Michael Meadowcroft employed and simply telly such people not to vote for me. And so it is that I even have some sympathy for Brown. I have felt myself tightening when someone raises immigration as an issue fearing that it will develop into an offensive tirade. Brown's error was to anticipate that Mrs Duffy was going to do just that rather than wait and listen to what she had to say. I have observed that in this election the point that has been raised with me is not racists but a disbelief that people travel half way across a continent to take up work in Britain whilst we have so many unemployed people. It is alot more complicated that, often such people are admiring of the 'immigrants' hard work and enterprise. I met such a man last night in Ainsdale. He had been in the merchant navy and travelled the world. He knew that there was free movement of labour and that it was desirable. Nevertheless he was contemptuous that after 13 years of Labour government they had not anticipated labour shortages in key parts of the economy and filled that skill gap by training people.