Friday, 13 November 2009

Gordon Brown, the letter and the phone call

Many blogs have commented on the furore that arose out of the letter of condolence sent by the Prime Minister to bereaved mother Jacqui Janes whose son Jamie lost his life in Afghanistan. So I might as well add my twopenneth ... As I see it nobody has emerged from this mess with their reputation intact. I have found it interesting to read comments on the lines of "I really dislike Brown and his policies but I do sympathise with him in this instance". This indicates to me that some at least can put their usual personal feelings aside and bring the British sense of fairness into play and that's pleasing. I will state in Brown's defence that, given that he is continuing the process started by I think Margaret Thatcher of doing these condolence letters, he is absolutely right in writing rather than typing them. If typed there is no certain sense that they are the words of G Brown, it could be a civil servant in 10 Downing Street doing the necessary with Brown signing it along with the dozens of other letters and memos crossing his desk.

OK so yes Brown is absolutely right to hand write such letters, I'll take my hat off to him for that. The problem for him of course is his restricted vision allied to really poor handwriting and he has let himself down by not having his letter checked by someone before posting and also the fact that he clearly altered a name rather than writing a fresh letter. This episode sums up one of his character flaws: he just seemed to be unaware of how essential it was to get everything right in a communication of this sort. I absolutely hate sending out any letter of mine that is incorrect in terms of spelling or punctuation - I'm not saying that I've never corrected an original letter rather than rewriting it but it would seldom if ever happen and certainly not if it was a missive of real importance.

In Brown's case this letter could easily have been written late at night and when he was really tired and when he was alone with no advisers around him. You would have thought though that with his handicap he would have realised just how important it was to pass a letter such as this to a confidante for checking. Well from now on in perhaps he will! Brown unfortunately is ill suited to this televisual age in which we live. He lacks many of the social skills and niceties someone in his position perhaps should have. An example was the instance when he was seen picking his nose in the Commons and before you could say "Tony Blair" there was a video of it on 'YouTube'. Another time he was meeting some dignitary with one trouser leg inside his sock. He is such a complex character - he really displayed genuine empathy when the Camerons lost their disabled son but on the other hand is well known for his unacceptable levels of bullying, his vicious temper and the fact that he will not answer a straight question. He got caught out didn't he with the recording of the phone call with Mrs Janes, very humbling I thought but goes to show how difficult it is to keep anything private these days.

As for 'The Sun' I'm not going to dignify them with a comment.

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