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PM apologises over soldier letter

November 10, 2009

Unfortunately, this is the biggest news in the UK for the moment.

For non-UK readers, Gordon Brown has taken an unprecedented step of hand-writing individual letters of condolence to the  close relatives of soldiers killed in the middle-East this year.

This is no mean task for someone running a country, when such letters would have normally been cranked out from a computer or by a typist and just signed. Not made easier because the PM does not have perfect vision in his one remaining eye and his handwriting is far from neat. He said “Every time I write a letter to mothers and fathers and partners who have suffered bereavement to express my sincere condolences, it is a moment of personal sadness to me. And I am in awe of the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces.”

Who in this situation might not have made mistakes? Unfortunately he did in one letter to the mother of Jamie Janes – several – and the letter clearly was not proof-read before being posted.

She complained. The PM phoned personally to apologise for the errors and was, apparently,  harangued by her for 15 minutes. She recorded the tirade and subsequently passed it for publication to The Sun. In a video distributed by the Sun newspaper, his mother Jacqui called the letter a “hastily scrawled insult”. What, if anything, she is being paid for this has not been revealed but The Sun is known to have its own anti-government agenda.

She has every right to be upset and her desire, or even ‘need’, to  blame someone for her loss is not unexpected. What she is not showing is the dignity shown by the relatives of every other UK soldier killed in this conflict. She shows no respect for the effort Gordon Brown has made nor for his disability. I’m sure her son would not have wanted it this way. Like every man and woman in the conflict, he signed up for the armed forces, knowing full well that he might give his life for his country. Like many others, I believe he wrote a letter to be opened in the event of his death.

The sooner this ‘news’ item fades from the airwaves and headlines the better. I hope that Mrs Janes can soon accept the facts, understand and accept the motives of others and find peace of mind in her grief.


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