Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A thought on the non story

I do hope that these stories in The Sun about the letters don't fall foul of the law of unintended consequences.

It is a fact that more soldiers will die in this conflict and, having spoken to families who have received letters of condolence from the Prime Minister and greatly appreciated them, I'd hate to think that this latest non story stopped this from happening.

I'm rubbish at spelling and rely on spell check to assist me in the same way that many people rely on calculators to do mathematics that I can do in my head. The Prime Minister is also a busy man - I wish he wasn't because the hapless man has all but destroyed this country and continues to do so.

But in a time of grief a hand written letter from the Prime Minister is an important gesture. Okay, it's a gesture but it's not a political stunt because there were no bloody press releases about it when he took the decision to do this.

What would be terrible is if because of this PR disaster for him, spurred on by the paper who until a few weeks ago were all in favour of Labour and a grieving mother other families did not get that personal touch.

I do hope that Gordon Brown, for the short time he has left as Prime Minister does not let this fiasco deter him from doing one of the few things he has done right.


Witterings From Witney said...

Well said Trixie - some of the blogosphere need to 'get a life'.

subrosa said...

I haven't posted on the subject of Brown's letter but I really do feel it's one of his PR gestures gone wrong.

What on earth he thought he was doing writing to families I don't know. Most families feel the Iraq and Afghan wars are wrong. They really don't value a letter from the person who sent their nearest and dearest to fight in them.

He should have left the letter writing to the people who really care and have always done - the regiment concerned. They write the letters, sincere and personal, because they knew their loved one and his/her colleagues. Some were possibly present when they were killed.

So I disagree Trix, a letter from Gordon Brown may be an important gesture from his view but it's certainly not from most of the families of the dead.

Trixy said...

How is it a PR stunt when he doesn't publicise them? The regiments wouldn't write letters because they are the ones who tell the families of the KIA and injured. They are the ones who assist with the welfare. The tradition of writing letters is that the leader of the government sends a letter on behalf of the government who represent the people of this country.

I don't know how many families of people who have lost loved ones you've spoken to but I can assure you that the ones I know think it is.

subrosa said...

Gordon Brown was talking about writing these letters just a few weeks ago Trix. Can't remember the newspaper now. I asked some of my military friends if it was so and they said yes he did - Maggie Thatcher had started it.

They also said the letters from Blair and Brown weren't much appreciated in military circles for obvious reasons.

Regimental officers have always been the people who write the family letters of condolence. That has forever and a day been so - until Maggie Thatcher decided, as PM, the government should get involved.

You're right insofar as regiments do help with the welfare and that is a fairly new development, mainly because we have been at war or in conflicts so much since WW2 ended. I'm not quite sure but I think regiments started to take more interest in welfare during the years of Northern Ireland. Regimental officers are the first to visit the next of kin to notify them of KIAs. They don't always visit for injuries but can telephone.

Check out your information.

Sadly I'm in touch fairly regularly with people who have lost loved ones or someone has been badly injured. I believe the 'severe' injuries in the past year are over 1000 but the MoD won't issue the figure.

Surreptitious Evil said...

Trixy, I assure you that the CO of the Regiment, and the OC of the Company and Squadron, and probably the higher formation commander (Brigadier or GOC) and the Honorary and Royal Colonels of the Regiment or Corps will write letters of condolence. The first two will have known the victim, the latter three probably won't (but are likely to have met them on formal occasions.) It isn't a tradition - it is a requirement. The writing of letters from the PM was, I understand (although I am happy to be proven wrong), thought up by Margaret Thatcher. Although in defence of her predecessors, it probably wouldn't have been the best use of Asquith's time writing 20,000 letters after the first day of the Somme. (Haig, on the other hand ...)

Yes, I agree that this hasn't been a PR stunt but it was inept - as is so much that GB has down in other spheres. Bad handwriting is one thing - in that case, you type the letter and write the salutation and a couple of lines at the bottom - the important thing is that the recipient can actually read it without a struggle, not that you feel pious about it (which may be GB's problem.) Poor spelling is not appalling - unless it is the name of the recipient or the deceased! If you can't reliably get that right then you have assistance - a spell checker for us peons, a Private Secretary or thirteen for the Prime Minister.

Oh dear, I am going to have to b*gger off and blog about it.

Trixy said...

The figures are published on the MoD website.

If you don't mind I won't be 'checking out my info' for something I deal with on a day to day basis.

subrosa said...

The figures on the MoD website are not up to date.

Strange, if you deal with military matters daily that you don't know the rules of military letters of condolence. Then again, unless you've been involved in that area, perhaps it's not a necessity for you.

I still think politicians should stay away from writing letters of condolence unless they knew the deceased personally and especially with the controversy which still surrounds the Iraq and Afghan wars.

James Higham said...

He certainly showed how much he cared, despite all the subsequent guff.