THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Whatever happened to men?
I am not a number

The Prime Minister and the grieving mother / UK - Brown looks at £1bn helicopter order.

I wonder if the linked story has anything to do with this? If so, Mrs Janes' shameful conduct in secretly recording and publishing a private call has at least had some good result. That still doesn't make it right.

The Sun's approach to this story, which demonises Brown (a man well worthy of it) for something irrelevant, is unprofessional. He is partially sighted and his handwriting is understandably poor. If he makes a spelling error, it is hard for him to detect. He is an over-promoted economic policy wonk, not a writer, and has had his letters typed for many years. It was very proper, indeed admirable, for him to write a personal, hand-written note to Mrs Janes. She should have received it in the spirit in which it was sent. Her reaction is emotional, unreasonable and unjust and the Sun's exploitation of it is sickening.

Labour's opponents will be tempted today, remembering the exploits of Alistair Campbell and Damien McBride, to sneer that those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. New Labour corrupted British political journalism; combining bribes of privileged access and bullying to make poodles of those who should have held them to account for their actions. Now they are weak and near defeat, some poodles are taking a cowardly chance to nip at their ankles. It's hard not to enjoy it, but that would be to make the mistake of accepting the despicable standards of journalism Labour has set.

We should demand better of the next government. It should not spin, bully or play favourites. Its ministers should treat journalists with the respect their profession deserves (even if some individuals within it deserve none). They must be open to be interviewed by serious journalists from all political points of view. Most difficult of all, if they are to do a good job, they must focus on the merits of their policies more than whether their press coverage is good or bad.

If the New Labour spin catastrophe teaches us anything, it is that sustained press manipulation will be detected and despised. In the end, burying bad news leaves a disgusting smell. As Abe Lincoln said, you can't fool all of the people all of the time. In the long run, it's better not to try. If a Conservative government behaves properly in its dealings with journalists, it will surprise and confuse them immensely. Labour has been in power a long time. Many British political journalists have no experience of honest dealings. Some - accustomed to bullying - will attack perceived weakness. Over time however, respect that can never be stolen or extorted can be earned - and reciprocated.

Call me naive, but I hope never to learn that a Conservative Minister or aide was responsible for promoting or seeking to benefit from such a disgusting, exploitative story as this one. Just as I hope that none will ever seek to benefit from smearing the private lives of their opponents or outing their personal foibles, whether they mask their prurience with references to "trust" and "honesty" or not.

I am sorry for Mrs Janes loss. We owe her son a debt of gratitude and respect. But his death does not give her opinions one grain of extra weight. She should shut up and pay her late son the respect his memory deserves in her grief. If they are wise, anti-Labour commentators will shut up too. There is no story here.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I dislike the EU as much as you, but you overstate the case (which is unhelpful). Parliament has not given away sovereignty. It has merely (partially) delegated it. "The government" remains in Britain. It has just "offshored" most of its functions. One Act of Parliament is all it would take to cancel that offshoring contract. A government with a good majority could achieve that in a week.


You mention the next government, Tom. You refer to the EU of course.


Unfortunately like the reading of the list of the dead in Parliament, the writing of 'personal' letters, something always trailed in the BBC and other organs of State spin, has just served to sanitise the process of violent death.

The dead are not the 'Glorious' dead, they were shredded to bloody pulp in support of a failed policy that has no aim. Morale is being affected not by the deaths per se but by the sheer pointlessness of it all.

I don't think anybody comes out of this with credit, Mrs Janes can be forgiven as she is beyond grief and anger. The Sun, Brown and Mandelson cannot. They have all reduced serious politics to the level of a punch and judy show.

Yet again anything Brown touches turns to dust.

Will it be better under the Tories I very much doubt it.

john ward

Great stuff and similar to be found at my homepage

Keep it up. They don't like it up 'em.



OK. I figure you could say entirely justified bad things about Brown till the cows come home. But I am not sure he should be getting beaten up over writing this letter.

He didn't have to write it. I bet the guys CO would have done a better job already. I guess it was just something Brown felt he ought to do. Like it was right.

As far as I know he didn't advertise it, so possibly spin was not on his agenda. He didn't have to hand write it either. Must have figured it would mean more hand written.

Everyone has got to admit he is probably pretty busy messing up the country, so he has to make time to write the letter.

If he had got it typed up by an aid and signed it he would have been better off.

The guy has bad eyesight, probably miss-read the names off a briefing and his real failing is not getting it proof read after.

So I say beat up on him for sure. He absolutely deserves it... but maybe not for this.


It is really hard to identify who is wrong and who is right, but I just agree the Tom's opinion and his reply to Jim.


I didn't ask for sympathy for him. Labour is, in a sense, getting what it deserves. And the surveillance state horror is why I started blogging. What they are doing is disgusting and I loathe them for it. I am just saying that if we join in with the Sun's odious farce, we are accepting that the journalistic standards set in the last decade under Campbell's dire influence are permanent.

David Davis

I have commented on this here...

...earlier today, being worried myself about what The Sun seems to be getting out of this. Knowing soldiers locally, I don't think a mother is the midst of terrible grief would stand up like she does.

That said, Gordon Brown, although partly blind and probably not having written a proper, meaningful letter, about tragedy and sorrow, for the last 3 or 4 decades, ought to have taken more care, if he was going to go the politico-route and try to do the sorrowing-Commanding-Officer-thingy. Bastard he is. (Yoda...)


This is the action of The Sun, not a bereaved loving mother

Peter Whale

Sorry disagree,the spin that has come from this government, the misinformation on Iraq,the lies from Mcbride sitting next to Brown in the Downing street bunker,the lies on equipment for the armed forces and you expect a bereaved loving mother to be Honourable towards the scum that run us.

john miller

I agree with Jim - the irony of it!

Generally, on any aspect of military matters, I pop over to ARSSE to see what the men involved think of it.

The overall feeling seems to be that The Sun is out of order, but that Brown, (who bears the appellation "nob" throughout) although he gets some kudos for handwriting it, has been pathetic in getting the name wrong. One poster outlines the checks and double checks the military use for their letters, which puts Brown to shame.

Personally, I believe these letters to be a political stunt. The Queen sends letters (rather better letters, one suspects) but then the Royal Family have close ties with the military. From that point of view, I don't subscribe to the viewpoint that the letters are appalling because he is three quarters blind.

If he genuinely did care, he would realise that these letters are important to the recipient and he would make sure the letters stood up.

Let's not forget that in his telephone conversation he refers to his copy of the letter.

This was not Brown labouriously scratching out a heartfelt missive. This was dashed off without any real conviction several weeks after the man was killed. It then went through the Downing Street admin machine to be copied, filed and posted. No one cared about the contents of the letter, merely that political duty had been done.

For this reason I can understand the lady's reaction, but the telephone recording is a bridge too far.


You have managed to write this on the same day the government wanted to take the power to record all emails, telephone calls, internet records, etc, of all British people. So Brown has had his own tricks turned on him and you think we should sympathise?
I don't follow your logic here. The Independent says it may be delayed until after the election, if you believe it.
Also Mrs. Janes has publicised the point of soldiers buying their own equipment, not having enough helicopters, etc. Clearly not enough pressure has been put on the government over these issues, especially when you calculate the cost of Labour's surveillance state.


Well said.

Sadly, Cameron and his mentor Hilton are PR spinners by nature and nuture. It has to be rememember that the Heir to Blair was elected to counteract ten years of Blair spin and spivery. Relatively honest politics had been tried with Major, Hague, IDS and Howard and in my view the Tories had given up hope that decency would prevail when they fell for Cameron's style over substance approach. Rebranding - bah, humbug.

Soon after Cameron's election, Blair's spin and spivery was recognised for what it was and Blair was elbowed out. The Tories however were stuck with a leader who had been elected in Blair's image.

I don't hold out much hope for a straight forward honest Government lead by the Heir to Blair.


Spot on, great commentary. A number of libertarian blogs have picked this up and run with it in the direction decided by the Sun newspaper and it is sickening to watch.


I've just listened to the Janes tape and I don't see anything wrong with what she's said to Brown.

The comments to this entry are closed.