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Brown turns to economy amid ‘bigotgate’ shambles

world Updated: Apr 30, 2010 00:44 IST

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown prepared to claw back Thursday in the last television debate ahead of general election next week after throwing his Labour party’s poll campaign into turmoil by calling a 66-year-old widowed grandmother a “bigoted woman.”

“Yesterday was yesterday. Today I want to talk about the future of the economy,” Brown said ahead of the debate on the British economy, where he will appear alongside his opponents David Cameron of the Conservatives and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

The latest opinion polls, taken largely before Brown’s gaffe made on Wednesday, appeared to show the Liberal Democrats — for long Britain’s ‘third party’ in the wings — holding ground. All polls however pointed toward a hung parliament.

The Conservatives led consistently in polls taken by Yougov, Mori and Comres but the surprise was a suggestion from an ICM poll that the Liberal Democrats were set to grab at least 80 seats — 17 more than in the current parliament and the largest number since 1923.

Brown’s made his comments at an unguarded moment into a radio microphone that he had forgotten to switch off after meeting Gillian Duffy in Rochdale, a working class town in northwest England with a substantial immigrant population.