Brown gaffe: 'His campaign was already a shambles'

ACRES of newsprint and hours of TV time have been devoted over the last 24 hours to Gordon Brown's "bigoted woman" gaffe.

Much of the speculation has been on whether the incident will prove to be the election game-changer.

But this misses the point: the highly public embarrassment for Brown did not change the game – because his campaign was already a shambles. That, with the emergence of the Lib Dems, already had the bookies and the opinion polls predicting defeat for Labour.

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No, what the Prime Minister needed this week was a game-changer which revived his party's fortunes, and his best chance was tonight's leaders' debate on the BBC.

It was set up to focus on the economy, which was always going to be Brown's strong suit – especially in a week which brought signs of economic growth and profits for the state-owned Lloyds bank group.

Instead, that rictus smile may merely remind viewers of Brown's demeanour as he spoke to Gillian Duffy yesterday and afterwards when he announced his apology.

Arguably, one clumsy man's gaffe should not come to epitomise a campaign, but that was the risk of agreeing to presidential-style debates. Tonight's last one will be Brown's final chance to change the game.

Generous offers

THE generosity of Evening News readers is both humbling and inspiring.

Even in these tough economic times, support has been pouring in for our campaign to raise funds for the new St Columba's Hospice, which for more than 30 years has been helping local families of all types in their times of need.

But News readers have also been prepared to dip into their pockets to help individual cases too.

Three days after we revealed that five-month-old Tyler Rees, the son of a local soldier, needed a special helmet to protect his skull, his parents now have many offers of financial assistance.

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Cash for Kids and a local businessmen have both offered to pay 2,000 for the protective helmet – which the NHS refused to fund.

Another 1,000 has been donated by generous individuals, and as a result it won't just be Tyler who may soon get the helmet for his rare "flat head" syndrome.

Mum Chantelle, 22, is delighted – and so is the News to have been able to help in any way.