Monday, 9 November 2009

It's called the Scum for a reason.

On Saturday, the Sun ran a leader attacking Gordon Brown for having the temerity to answer a question about The X Factor given to him during an interview on a Manchester radio station. According to a newspaper which that day led on, err, The X Factor, he should be dedicating his "every waking moment" to the fate of our forces out in Afghanistan. He ought to be, according to the leader writer, be "leading the way". This is without mentioning the completely fatuous argument the paper made by comparing the number of hits on Google when searching for "Gordon Brown and Afghanistan" and "Gordon Brown and Michael Jackson". Not that it'll be doing so again, considering Mr Murdoch is pondering "banning" Google.

Two days later, and the paper attacks Gordon Brown for err, dedicating his "every waking moment" to the fate of our forces out in Afghanistan. Not only did Brown "fail to bow" at the Cenotaph, quite clearly a concious snub to Our Boys, but he also sent a "bloody shameful" letter to Jacqui Janes, mother of Jamie Janes, killed on October the 5th in Afghanistan. Brown's crime was to write it in his almost illegible handwriting, as well as possibly mistaking their surname for James instead of Janes (it isn't clear whether Brown has written James instead of Janes; his n and m look very similar) and to make a number of spelling mistakes. According to Mrs Janes, who has naturally given the Sun an exclusive video interview, she was so angered by the letter she threw it across the room and burst into tears:

"I re-read it later. He said, 'I know words can offer little comfort'. When the words are written in such a hurry the letter is littered with more than 20 mistakes, they offer NO comfort.

"It was an insult to Jamie and all the good men and women who have died out there. How low a priority was my son that he could send me that disgraceful, hastily-scrawled insult of a letter?

"He finished by asking if there was any way he could help.

"One thing he can do is never, ever, send a letter out like that to another dead soldier's family. Type it or get someone to check it. And get the name right."


Of course, once she had finished chucking it across the room, she got on the phone to the Sun. In fact, there's nothing to suggest that the letter was hastily-scrawled: Brown's handwriting is simply that bad. As someone whose handwriting is also close to being illegible unless I write out every letter individually, which makes you look even more like a child, and who also has a surname which is very easily misspelled, which while annoying is hardly the end of the world, it's difficult not to have some sympathy for Brown. Clearly he wants the letter to have the personal touch, something that a word processed expression of condolences wouldn't have, and just what do you say to the parent of someone who's just lost their son in a war you sent him to fight without slipping into the obvious, the clich├ęd and the torturous? Yes, he should have perhaps been more careful with the spelling and especially with the names, but has it really come to the point where we think that personal letters written with the very best of intentions are acceptable material to attack the prime minister with?

The Sun it seems, having up until very recently having supported the prime minister, even if it didn't blow smoke up his backside like it did his predecessor, has decided to attack Brown over the very trivial things it was alarmed he was involving himself in. Not being able to disagree with him over policy on Afghanistan, on which he only fails to be as gung-ho as they are, they've decided that such perceived slights are "more evidence of Mr Brown's underlying disregard for the military". After all, nothing quite says you disregard the military like not acting like a hunchback in front of the Cenotaph, or err, writing a personal letter to the bereaved. This also ties in with, according to the Sun, his "half-hearted attitude to the war in Afghanistan". This half-hearted attitude involves his increasing the number of troops by 500, and yet another speech last Friday on just why we're in the country. His speech did have a contradiction at its heart, but the reason for this is that Brown is trying to please everyone: he has no intention of getting us out, but knows as public opinion turns against the war and against the corrupt Karzai government, he has to put down some "conditions" for their continued presence, even if they're false ones. If Brown is being half-hearted, then so too is President Obama, still undecided on whether to increase the US troop numbers by 40,000, as requested by the army. Seeing as we rely on the Americans, we're waiting on them as much as everyone else is.

Even by the Sun's complete lack of any standards, this must rank as one of the lowest attacks to be launched on a politician in recent times. Not only is it without any foundation whatsoever, but the newspaper seems to think it's perfectly acceptable to use an individual, in this instance a grieving mother, to attack someone for their own ends, someone as pointed above which up until a month ago they were giving their nominal support to. As Mr Eugenides also suggests, it says more about that person that her first instinct on getting the letter was to phone the Sun to complain about the handwriting than it does about the person who took the time to write it. Clearly, we've now gone beyond the point where Brown will be attacked by the Sun on the virtue of his actual policies, it's now "bucket of shit" time, where anything and everything that he does which they decide is wrong will be pointed out and complained about. Going by the Sun's past record when it comes to smearing Labour politicians, the election campaign coming up could be quite something.

5 comments:

Dave Cross said...

So this woman calls her son "Jamie Janes". And then she wonders why people get a little confused.

drew white said...

Her words smacked of an angry person looking for ways to verbalise her pain. I would imagine the Sun journalist who met her gave her a good old helping hand.

This was the top story on BBC 10 o'clock news last night, with The Sun logo shown during footage.

On the same day this was published:
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/fourth-estate/2009/11/murdoch-news-bbc-sue-stories

Raging Reg said...

No fan of Gordon Brown; and I have every sympathy for Ms Janes on the loss of her son in combat action. Yet I am left wondering why one would act in such a churlish way. To act in such an impolite manner to what is obviously a hearfelt letter to a grieving mother, which was meant to show some suppor, from a Prime Minister who is often accused of being remote. The fact that she contacted The Sun, of all tabloids to express her anger reeks somewhat of exploitation on one hand and financial opportunism on the other.

To not accept an apology, to voice anger at a mans spelling - calling into question his visual impairment is very vulgar and grubby - typical tabloid press.....to question his integrity on equipment and the tools for the armed forces to complete their mission is fair game....but the sentiments in the letter??? She doth protest too much....

I have a very old telegram from 1916 addressed to my great great grandfather the maternal side of my family ....It states Pte. Charles White 2nd Bn Oxf and bucks Light Inf Age 25 died in action 30th July 1916.....that was all you got.

Tim said...

Just a quick note on "financial opportunism": even if she was paid, I think it's fair to say that grief is her main motivation (see drew white's comments)

drew white said...

It's almost too good to be true - today both Murdoch's Sky News and The Sun themselves misspelled the surname "Janes".

Both errors have since been corrected, but it would seem like the most obvious aspect to double check when covering this story.

Exhibit A: http://i37.tinypic.com/21oa2b5.jpg
Exhibit B: http://stashbox.org/693653/JamieJames_screencap.jpg

Glass houses. Stones.

I trust Jacqui is suitably angry with Murdoch - maybe he'll call to apologise?