The British media have been going potty this week about The Sun Newspaper’s personal attack on Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
In short; a woman whose son died in Afghanistan received a hand-written letter from Mr. Brown offering his condolences. She, however, notices that her family name is spelt wrong and that the letter is peppered with mistakes. She decides to take this story to The Sun, who recently decided to withdraw their support of the Labour party, and a week-long offensive on Gordon ensues. The tabloid threw various allegations at him; that he didn’t care about troops and that his letter was an insult, as well as claiming an ‘i’ without a dot in it is an offence to anyone who reads it.
All I can say is that it’s a good job I have never had to write a letter of condolence; I haven’t dotted an ‘i’ since year six!
The Prime Minister then called the woman in question to apologise personally. Apparently, a friend of hers suggested that she recorded the conversation and the whole world got to hear her chat with Gordon. Clearly still stricken with grief she laid into him – it was quite frankly gut-retching to listen to.
She has since accepted Mr. Brown’s apology.
From what I can see from my distant perch in China, this story seems to have back-fired on The Sun. They have certainly come in for a lot of criticism from other media giants and I am personally bloody disgusted with their behaviour. It seems clear to me that the paper has capitalised on a poor woman’s grief for their own political agenda and unfairly attacked a man for sincerely trying to offer his support in a personal, hand-penned letter. Brown himself has deteriorating sight, so it is possible he has not read the woman’s name correctly. Someone probably should have also checked his penmanship before it was sent off, but he decided to sit down and write a letter, not run off another pre-typed one and simply sign the bottom of it.
Okay, The Sun have a go at the PM and Gordon looks a little sad again. But I think this attack has other repercussions.
Since the expenses scandal there has been a massive outcry for a new attitude in politics; for a new outlook, for new blood. What young person is going to even consider going into politics when they see national newspapers beating our leaders to a pulp. Of course our representatives in parliament should be subject to criticism on their policies and to a certain extent their personal lives. But the manner in which The Sun quite frankly bullied Gordon this week is enough to dissuade anyone from a life in the political spotlight.
Politics is something I am interested in, I may even decide to make it a career one day, but this story made me second guess. Haters in YouTube video comments are one thing, they’re a piece of piss to deal with. But in politics all you need is one newspaper to decide to rip you to shreds and no matter how pure your intentions you can have the whole country hating you. I believe Gordon is a genuinely nice guy, who went into politics for the right reasons, but he is the most hated leader in a generation.
Who is going to want to get into this profession and make a difference to the political classes, to deliver the reform that is needed, if they are just going to be reduced to a picture on the nation’s dartboard?