No politician comes off the better from an encounter with the raw rage of a grieving mother but I think Gordon Brown did his level best to express his sincere apologies for messing up his letter to Jacqui Janes at his press conference this morning.
You’d think that the whole row, stoked by the Sun newspaper, could have been over much earlier if Mr Brown or his official spokesman could have admitted at the outset, to Mrs Janes and the press, that he had made a mistake.
But in the world of jackal journalism it is impossible for Number 10 to admit the Prime Minister is fallible - he’d be strung up for not being the Pope if they said that.
The whole episode has given us all a taste of the cynicism and the ferocity of the tabloid onslaught against Mr Brown from here to a general election in which the rest of the media is swept along.
So the war over the letter continues for another day and it dominated the Prime Minister’s press conference although it’s hard to see where it goes from here. Having said sorry in person, having apologised to everyone for his handwriting (which is much the same as having to apologise for being blind in one eye) and having said that he has experienced a parent’s sense of bereavement through the death of his own daughter there is not much more the Prime Minister can do.
The Sun is unlikely to call a truce until it detects that its attacks on Mr Brown on this front are actually engendering some sympathy for him. It’s clear from the recorded telephone conversation between Jacqui Janes and the Prime Minister that her anger is about a lot more than a mis-spelt word. Some people think the Sun is manipulating her grief (it is) but she is nobody’s fool. She is steeped in military culture and seems to know all the issues when she is discussing equipment or lack of medivac helicopters.
Meanwhile the war trundles on. The coffins of another six soldiers - including the five killed by a rogue Afghan policeman - have been flown into RAF Lyneham and the MoD have named a British soldier who died in hospital after an explosion in Afghanistan as Rifleman Samuel John Bassett, 1 Platoon, 4th Battalion The Rifles, serving as part of the 3 Rifles Battle Group.
Rifleman Bassett was injured by a bomb near Sangin, in northern Helmand province on 1 November. He died on Sunday, aged 20
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