Sky News are leading their bulletins with the story that Gordon Brown is being criticised for spelling errors in a letter he had written to the mother of a soldier who had been killed in Afghanistan. They have interviewed the lady reading out the letter and highlighting the errors. She clearly feels very upset and angry. This comes on top of the PM coming under fire for not bowing his head at the cenotaph yesterday.
The interview made for very uncomfortable viewing. It is easy to understand the mother's anger, but even his political opponents should tread very carefully before making political capital out of this. Gordon Brown has always had terrible handwriting. He writes in felt tip because of his lack of eyesight.
Yes, it's unforgiveable to get the lady's name wrong and to misspell her son's name, and I am sure the Prime Minister will acknowledge that. Some will say this provides yet another example of the Prime Minister's attitude to the armed forces. I prefer to believe - some will say naively - that the Prime Minister was probably dog tired when he wrote this letter and we should cut him some slack. No one can surely really believe that he intended to insult the soldier's memory.
UPDATE: I'm told that no one in Downing Street checks these letters before they are sent out, as Gordon Brown puts them in an envelope and seals them himself.
UPDATE: Downing Street has issued this statement on behalf of the PM...
I take very seriously my responsibility to the bereaved. Every time I write a letter to mothers and fathers and partners who have suffered bereavement to express my sincere condolences, it is a moment of personal sadness to me. And I am in awe of the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces. I send a handwritten letter to every family and I often write to more than one member of the family.
I have telephoned Jacqui Janes to apologise for any unintended mistake in the letter. To all other families whom I have written to, I can only apologise if my handwriting is difficult to read. I have at all times acted in good faith seeking to do the right thing. I do not think anyone will believe that I write letters with any intent to cause offence.