As Prime Minister of The UK he has many tasks to perform that will not sit well or easily on his shoulders. Sending a letter to the mother of a British Serviceman, killed in active service, turned out to be just one more thorn in his side.
As this week includes Remembrance Day it is more poignant than ever.
We have seen and heard reports in the news this week of a personal letter, which Gordon sent to Jacqui Janes whose son was killed in Afghanistan. Traditionally the Prime Minster sends a personal hand written note to any such relatives which should, in some small way, be comforting. Unfortunately, this letter caused more hurt feelings and offence than anything else.
It is claimed by Mrs Janes that the letter appeared to have been hastily written and was full of spelling mistakes. In fact, it is claimed that one of the spelling mistakes was actually her surname, which was allegedly written as JAMES.
In the full throes of such grief, Mrs Janes has viewed this letter as an insult and I can see why. However, it is sad that what was no doubt meant with the best of intentions has so backfired on Mr Brown. When Mr Brown spoke to Mrs Janes on the phone, Mrs Janes taped the conversation and this has been aired publicly also. Downing Street has declined to let Mr Brown's actual conversation be heard but of course that has not been the end of it. Television news in the UK has played the conversation as far as Mrs Janes speaking and someone has read the Prime Minister's parts. It would seem, though, that by today, 11th of November 2009 Remembrance Day, that Mrs Janes has accepted Mr Brown's apology.
I have so many mixed feelings on the whole matter.
- Mrs Janes used the conversation to berate the PM regarding funding of the war in Afghanistan, namely the ancillary support for troops.
- The fact that she taped the conversation does not sit well with me.
- As Gordon Brown is only partially sighted, his writing does tend to look a little untidy and scruffy. He writes with a thick tipped sort of marker pen.
- Why were there no aids to the PM checking the content of the letter for the basics such as spelling mistakes and names?
- This week was particularly useful for such news.
Overall my gut feeling is that Gordon Brown thought he was doing the right thing. Countless other letters, that have been sent to other bereaved relatives, have offered some small comfort and showed the country's appreciation for the troop's effort.
With a General Election looming in 2010, in the UK, is this just another instance when an opportunity has been seen to damage the existing government and has been greedily grabbed?. I tend to think that this is the case. It would be interesting perhaps to discover Mrs Janes political leanings. However that good lady may have not even considered such implications and simply been expressing her heartfelt sadness and anger.
Either way it is a shame that such a letter has been used as it has.