Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday 10 November 2009

The Sun have gone too far publishing the call between the PM and Jacqui Janes

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

I didn't want to do it but I have listened to the phone call between Gordon Brown and Jacqui Janes, bereaved mother of British soldier Jamie Janes who died in Afghanistan. I listened to it because I was planning to blog about it and thought it was only fair to listen first.

Before I listened I thought it was wrong for The Sun to have released this phone call which was supposed to have been private between the PM and a grieving mother. After listening to it it has only strengthened my view.

Jacqui is wholly understandably very distraught both about the letter that Gordon Brown sent that she considers an insult to his memory (due to misspellings and perceived shoddiness) but also what she considers a lack of equipment provided for the troops, especially helicopters. She makes these points forcefully on several occasions during the call, her voice cracking with emotion. At one point she does seem to be crying as she relates in detail the injuries that her son sustained before he died. Gordon Brown throughout tries to express his condolences and sympathy. He does at one point try to maintain that he did not make spelling mistakes which seems wrong to me as having seen the letter I think it is pretty clear he did in a few places.

I think what The Sun have now done is an unwarranted intrusion into a mother's grief. I know Jacqui must have recorded the call herself and/or given permission for it to have been released but she is a bereaved, intensely angry mother who has just lost her son. The newspaper should have been more responsible than to have released the recording. I felt very wrong listening to it myself and as I said would not have done so except for the fact that I was going to blog about it.

There is another thing about the way the recording is presented by The Sun on its website. They are using a Flash player which also allows video footage. Whilst the call is being played images of Remembrance Sunday, a soldier being brought home in a coffin and also a still of the letter Mr Brown sent scroll past. The image of Remembrance Sunday has Mr Brown standing in the centre of the picture. the only other person visible over his right shoulder is John Major. I cannot believe this is a coincidence although The Sun will doubtless claim it is. The signal is clear to me. They are trying to communicate that Brown is finished and in the same position as Major was at the end of his premiership. To be using this phone call to communicate subliminal political messages like this is just plain wrong.

I of course have immense sympathy for Jacqui and cannot imagine what she has gone through. I also feel very sorry for Gordon Brown regarding this episode. He did make a mistake with the letter but he has apologised and tried to make up for it. He is clearly very embarrassed about what has happened and he does not deserve the treatment that he is now getting from The Sun.

They should remove this recording from their site.

PS: I have deliberately not linked to The Sun's page featuring the recording.


Kalvis Jansons said...

I agree with your position on this.

dizzy said...

From the article in the Sun:

Outraged Jacqui, 47, hit the phone's loudspeaker button to record the call - as she seized the chance to nail him over equipment shortages that put Our Boys in peril.

She handed her tape to The Sun

Sounds to me like she wanted it to be published.

Mark Thompson said...

Understood but isn't that beside the point though? The question I am asking is should The Sun have published it? She is an angry grieving mother.

Matthew Huntbach said...

Underneath this is once again a right-wing newspaper which when it isn't moaning about taxes being too high is moaning about government not spending even more money on whatever is the "why oh why" issue of this week.

Plus, of course, quite horribly exploiting an obviously distraught person, as well as cruelly insulting the PM, who whatever his faults I can see in this case was acting in a way that was meant to personal and touching. If he'd put his signature on a standard printed letter rather than bothered to make it personal and handwrite it, none of this would have happened.

Do newspapers and their editors and journalists ever say sorry? No. Do they behave worse than the politicians they constantly berate in their campaign which in the long term is really a campaign against against democracy? Yes.

Anonymous said...

You're quite right here - The Sun is exploiting the anger and grief of a mother who is, judging by the call, in a terrible state. My heart goes out to her, but in no way does that mean that I belive the Sun was right in its publishing of the tape.

You might have read Darrell Goodliffe's blog already which articulated a similar view.

And really good point on the Brown/Major photograph. I didnt notice it, but I'm sure the reason behind it's use was as you suggest. It may even become my Image of the Day!

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Don't the angry grieving mothers also have a right to be heard?

The death of the soldier was political, the 'phone call was political, the Sun is a political newspaper.

The point that emerges is the very highly political one that troops are required to cope without adequate equipment and who knows what else.

As Mrs Janes realises, this matter goes beyond private grief: it is a political issue. The Sun is correct on this occasion.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

There is another interpretation of the meaning that may be read in the Major/Brown juxtaposition: Major for all his faults and the difficulties of his government conducted himself reasonably well in the Gulf War, in contrast too...!

Ewan Hoyle said...

You're right Mark, this is disgraceful, but I suspect this may be worse:
The BBC have published a critical graphological analysis on Gordon Brown's handwriting. I'm spitting mad.

Mark Thompson said...

Ewan - That article is ridiculous. They point out that many think it's pseudoscience and then go ahead with the comparison using a graphologist anyway.

At least virtually all the comments below expose the article for what it is. Nonsense.

Unknown said...

I completely agree that the Sun is exploiting a distraught mother for its own ends here. I wish the rest of the country would follow Merseyside's lead with regard to this dreadful rag! I don't have much good to say about GB's performance as Chancellor or PM but I do not doubt that it was never his intention to offend Mrs Janes with the letter or phone call.