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A Tale In The Sting

With the release of a tape of a telephone conversation between Jacqui (sic) Janes and Gordon Brown it has become blindingly obvious that the hoo-hah surrounding his letter of condolence has been entirely confected; part of a sting operation against the Prime Minister almost certainly constructed for narrow (party) political purposes.

I do not buy for a single moment the notion that this is all about one woman’s grief or indeed supporting the troops in Afghanistan. It is solely about providing a bad press for the Prme Minister.

Not the least of the disturbing aspects of this affair is the revelation of the contents of the telephone call. Was Gordon Brown informed he was being taped? If not; is it not an offence to record someone over the phone without informing them that it is being done? This makes Ms Janes a law breaker and the Sun an accessory at the very least. (May we look forward to a prosecution?)

Moreover, due to these dubious circumstances – after all, which citizen, without ulterior motive or inducement, has the necessary recording equipment readily at hand, just in case? – I am inevitably led to the suspicion that Ms Janes may be rewarded financially for such deceit. [For the record: this is a suspicion that I would be delighted to be proven unfounded.]

However, I now have no sympathy whatever for Ms Janes.

Quite apart from Gordon Brown’s poor vision – which may make writing difficult for him and hence, also, his script difficult to read (and many people, myself included, have appalling handwriting) – how can Ms Janes object to his spelling when she, or her parents, cannot even spell her own name? The traditional form is Jackie, not Jacqui.

She not only spurned his initial letter – which he did not have to write; when, for whatever reason, he made another gesture of condolence by telephoning her, she was ungracious enough to reject this too.

It sounds very much like she is flailing around desperately trying to blame anyone for her son’s death.

Now (this is not to disparage the Armed Forces and it is especially galling to be writing this on Armistice Day) but Britain does not have a conscript army. Her son had to volunteer. Squaddies know the risks when they enlist. And unfortunately, if necessary, the duty they sign up for is to die. So to put it brutally, the only person to blame for his death is himself.

But perhaps she feels she could have stopped her son joining up and wishes now that she had, and so herself feels guilty for not doing so.

Whatever the truth of all this, the Sun’s complicity in her actions is despicable. She should have been left by them to grieve in peace; not driven to higher heights of denial and torment.

If the Sun’s intention was to make people less likely to have sympathy for the Prime Minister then in my case it has backfired spectacularly. It’s almost enough to make me consider voting for Gordon Brown. (And, unlike most people, I am actually in a position to do so.)

The man has done the decent thing twice over; and been pilloried for it.

He would have been damned if he hadn’t and he was damned that he did.

So, how likely is he in the future to write letters to the relatives of dead soldiers?

Wisely, David Cameron steered clear of this at PMQs today.

A Matter Of Respect

Jacqui Janes, mother of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan, has been in the news because a letter she received from Gordon Brown apparently misspelled her dead son’s name and, she is quoted as saying, was, “hastily scrawled,” forbye.

Just one thought. Who does she think she is?

She received a letter of condolence from the Prime Minister. Hand written, no less.

I appreciate that in her grief she may not have been in an accommodating frame of mind. But…

The letter wasn’t delegated to a minion. It wasn’t typed or word processed.

Does she imagine for a moment that Lloyd George or Winston Churchill personally wrote a letter of condolence to every member of the armed forces killed on their watches? I very much doubt Margaret Thatcher did so for each soldier, sailor or airman killed in the Falklands.

So who exactly is disrespecting whom? Whatever anyone thinks of Gordon Brown as PM the man is in an exacting job with many demands on his time.

If I had received such a letter I’d be grateful that he’d taken time from his schedule to even think to do so. The mere fact he wrote it shows he was thinking about her loss.

Btw: If I had a penny for every time my name had been misspelled – or mispronounced – I would be a very rich man indeed. I’m sure the same could be said for Ms Janes.

I almost feel like enjoining her to grow up.

It is desperately sad that her personal tragedy has been diminished by a sordid descent into PM bashing.

As it is, I cannot escape the notion that she has been used. And that is the real disgrace. A gross disrespect to her son by those who used her, much more so than a mere misspelling of his name.

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