Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mother swaps one son for another

I dig into this story reluctantly, other blogs have pretty much made their mind up - as has the corrosive Murdoch propaganda machine cunningly disguised as a news source.

We as a nation are increasingly emotionally immature, as is witnessed by our childlike reaction to confronting the one incontrovertible fact of life, death; Princess Diana, the need for a crack team of counsellors to descend on a school every time a schoolchild walks in front of a bus, the canonisation of police officers and fire-fighters injured or killed whilst doing their job, our fear of guns not people and the disproportionate reaction to 'one of ours' dying compared to lives less newsworthy or in another land - all examples of this phenomenon.  Millions of humans die every year, in car accidents, work related incidents, naturally and unnaturally, it appears to me that unless they are celebrities or in a uniform their passing is that of a life not worth comment.

Couple that with a blood lust for revenge and state sanctioned punishments that disregard the human condition - a condition that endows us with an incredible ability to make mistakes and yet still be redeemable - it makes a mockery of civilisation.

Two generations of young men gave their lives, in WW1 and WW2, to defend our freedom of choice and defeat oppression - yet many in our emotionally crippled population are all too quick to adopt the narrow intolerant standards of the enemies those young men fought to defend us against:

Poppy fascism, the replacement of the word 'soldier' with 'brave-soldier' or 'hero' and the apotheosis of all those who serve in the armed forces are another manifestation of this childlike behaviour. We need look no further than the illogical public hand-wringing over each and every unfortunate death of one of those employed in the armed forces.  A job that by implication expects a willingness on the part of its recruits to give up one's life if required.  Those of us who are not willing to accept that risk, the majority, do not sign up.

Is a non-combatant's lives less worthwhile - Is a non-military contribution to our society less significant?  Surely we create the society the uniformed services serve?

As a society we choose to maintain our armed forces, at significant expense, as an insurance.  We make a claim on that policy if their deployment is believed to be necessary to preserve our way of life - whether we agree with that decision or not, it is the decision of our elected representatives, the government.  It is their primary role - to be willing to fight and die to defend that society, a society without which they have no purpose.

As a student I attended a briefing at the Pitreavie Command Centre bunker during the Falklands War, I was considering a job in a division of the MoD at the time.  A Royal Navy Commander, who had drawn the short straw that morning, began the briefing by reminding us that our 'senior service', the Royal Navy, was created to defend our merchant fleet, maintain our trade routes and protect the citizens of the UK, not an end in itself simply the mechanism of last resort when our way of life was threatened.

Mothers whose sons, or daughters, die in the course of doing a dangerous job that the majority of us choose to eschew are hardly impartial commentators, we don't allow relatives of victims to sentence perpetrators, and neither should we - that is one step from rule by lynch mob.  The mothers on the other side, whose sons are killed by our troops, feel just the same; the premature death of a child you have given birth to is the ultimate loss, it does not lend itself to cool logic or impartiality.

More equipment, more helicopters, armour, guns, men... sure we could probably do with all of those, but my experience of the defence industry is that no matter how much is spent a politician or senior officer somewhere will call for more, to go down that path is to pursue perpetual militarisation and permanent war.  The Americans have much much more, and a defence budget that exceeds that of the rest of the world - but still combatants die, that is the nature of their chosen profession - death and injury are implicit in the deployment of an army in preference to diplomats.  It is impossible to ensure that a medic or helicopter is at hand for every injury, unless the standard mess kit contains both.

Mrs Janes, your son was the unfortunate victim of an ill advised war and I am sad for you, you however are the victim of a gutless and exploitative newspaper publisher with a sinister agenda who would happily undermine all we hold dear in the pursuit of avarice and power.

When my great grandmother's family were informed of the death of  her brother in France, a volunteer, it was via an anonymous telegram.  She may have wished to take Haig to task over his policy of insisting that his men went over the top en-masse and walk slowly towards the German machine guns, but had neither the opportunity nor inclination to indulge in propaganda, and that would have been unthinkable to a loyal citizen not to mention an act that would in some way undermine her brother's life.  Mrs Janes - your public stance is an insult to all of the mothers of injured and dead troops who have had the dignity and sense to conduct their mourning in private and not let themselves be exploited by a company operated as a dictatorship with a very public anti-government agenda - in the past your act of vanity may even have been described as treasonous behaviour.

Soldiers are now workers that reign as supreme beings, deserving of something better than the citizens of the country they are employed by.  This despite the fact that they are employed on the understanding that in a time of war they may be asked to lay down their lives by their commanding officer.

Mrs Janes, you have never voted, by your own admission, yet you accepted that your son should serve a country whose government you are disinterested in.  A woman who cares not a jot about politics and government but happily allows her sons to join the army of that government should not be surprised at a disappointing outcome - I'm not...  If you were in possession of the facts of the lack of equipment and neglect of this government beforehand, as you publicly claim, why did you not do what any other mother would have - counsel your son to quit before his deployment, I would have.

Our NATO obligations forced us into Afghanistan, it was always inevitable that we would lose lives and suffer injuries in that god-forsaken country, Bush was guilty of creating a bizarre skewed justification that has led to the deaths of soldiers from a number of nations.  We met our obligations and the price we pay is to put our servicemen in harms way - they know that, I know that, you know that and your son knew that.

Mrs Janes please show some dignity and respect for your son.  Your behaviour only undermines his sacrifice, he obviously believed in the Army and its mission.  So you cannot read Gordon's joined up writing and you do not accept the veracity of his contrition - I wouldn't if I had found a scapegoat for the death of one of my sons.  Jacqui how do you feel that your son's story took second place for much of today in The Sun's 'top read stories'? His death second to Eva's fashion boob in NY already, where will it be in two or three days time - is that dignified?

My two sons?  They work hard and are worthwhile members of society, and should I lose them prematurely I will be devastated - but it will be private grief with dignity to mark their worthwhile lives.


  1. I feel she was probably a bit gullible and was well and truly fisted by the Sun......i would never have enough trust in the Govt to allow them to deploy me as a soldier to just and proper causes... well vexed isn't it

  2. @rt13 - "Fisted by the Sun" I hope that wasn't a typo...

  3. Does the fact that Mrs Janes didn't vote exclude her from complaining that the Prime Minister couldn't be bothered to write a letter properly, or indeed to fund a war whilst pouring billions into broke banks?

    Now I don't think that Brown should have written anything at all. It's not his job. Maybe it's Aintworth's but I doubt he can write at all.

    More properly it is the job of someone high up in the military. Possibly even the Queen.

    However, if Brown is going to try to make it look like he cares, the very least he could do is make an effort to make a tidy job of it. He was writing on our behalf on headed paper we paid for.

    When I was young my dad used to make me write thank you letters at Christmas to anyone who had sent me a present. If they weren't perfect then he made me do them again. He said it showed a lack of respect if they were not properly spelled, punctuated and neat.

    This is the most important thank you letter of all. Even to someone who didn't vote for a pile of pigs at a trough.

    And yes, the Sun used her. They stink on ice. But maybe if, when they withdrew their support for this government, people like Harman hadn't acted in such a stupid and evidently petty way and if Mandleson hadn't used the C word, the Sun wouoldn't have been in such a hurry to make the Prime Minister look like such a "chump".

  4. In her grief which has cleary brought her near to a kind of madness(which if it was my son it could do to me)

    But she had a phone call and taped it?

    i make no comment merley i raise one eyebrow

  5. Tris, your private emails were an ill advised response to your comment which on reflection I decided to delete, sorry.

    You are absolutely correct that the Sun used Jacqui Janes, my beef is not with Brown (who my feelings on I have made clear many times) but her disrespect to her son - Brown wrote a letter he didn't have to, it was honest and probably the best he could do (make of that what you want. She allowed herself to be played by a detestable newspaper with an agenda that contributes nothing to the Afghanistan campaign and the deaths in a pointless war - in fact uses it to shift copies of its shite encrusted toilet paper, whilst exploiting vulnerable people to The Sun's maximum political and commercial benefit.

    I am a Mum, I would not have let my son go to Afghanistan if I knew what she claims to know - and I certainly would not boast about not voting and knowing nothing about politics on the BBC - then berating the Prime minister for policy mistakes. That is the very definition of stupidity, and speaks of the puppet masters behind her campaign...

    Do you think her son would be proud of her behaviour? I don't...

  6. P, you've hit several marks spot on.

  7. Don't haud back there hen - tell thum whit ye think!

    My gran lost her youngest brother at the start of the second world war. He was machine gunned at the age of 18 in Burma. She treasured the note she received informing her of his death (she had been his guardian since their parents died). It was typed but signed by the king in pen by his own hand - so she believed.

    When I told her that they had machines called autopens they use to sign high volume documents she refused to believe it. She would not accept that when hundreds of thousands were dying the King hardly had the time or stamina to sign all those death notices.

    She was uneducated but extremely well read and very, very smart - great at cryptic crosswords. Still she preferred to hang on to her belief that the King himself had signed this letter.

    How would she have reacted to a genuine letter and then a 'phone call from the prime minister? (Working class folks didnae have 'phones in those days but work with me here.)

    Compare and contrast.

  8. Very good piece Polaris but I also agree with this comment by Tris "If they weren't perfect then he made me do them again. He said it showed a lack of respect if they were not properly spelled, punctuated and neat."

  9. "Mrs Janes - your public stance is an insult to all of the mothers of injured and dead troops who have had the dignity and sense to conduct their mourning in private and not let themselves be exploited by a company operated as a dictatorship with a very public anti-government agenda - in the past your act of vanity may even have been described as treasonous behaviour."
    Very strong stuff but a few points.

    The Sun only just turned its back on the government and with good reason and like the pro socialist Labour media in Scotland who rape the SNP at every turn, I'm glad they have exposed this dinosaur of a PM for what he is.

    Lets not forget, The woman had lost her son and if it weren't for the stupidity of the PM and his misspelling of the family name amongst other gaffs then none of this mess would had been played out in public.

    You say in the past her vanity might be even treated as treasonous behaviour??

    Maybe so but the situation is we don't have a big county ready to invade us, bombs are not dropping out of the shy every night and so on over the UK.

    This woman might had acted a bit OTT and yes the recording of the PM's phone call was a bit under the belt. however this woman gets my vote because she was brave enough to say what the vast majority of others are saying and that is, Labour have not got a clue when it comes to war.

    I agree with you that those who are in uniform tend to have greater media coverage than those without a uniform but maybe its because those in uniforms are actually putting there lives on the line for others, so a little bit of recognition is just fine by me.

  10. Polaris. The Sun is a heap of rubbish. What they did and will continue to do is underhand, sneaky and disreputable. If there had been a gram of nous in the Labour Party they wouldn't have made such a thing of telling their supporters that they couldn't care less that this floor cloth was dropping them. I said at the time that it was a HUGE mistake. They tried to humiliate Murdoch and the Sun. Idiots! Wrong you may say, but The Sun used dirty tricks on the Tories and the SNP when it suited them. Labour didn’t complain about that.

    Mrs Janes has been used. No one would deny that, but what she said on that phone call was the truth. It's not just poor little Mrs Janes who is saying it. It's everyone except the government, which as usual, considers itself more expert than the experts. What a bunch of incredibly clever people they must be. They know more about drugs than scientists, they know more about war than soldiers... and on and on. It’s amazing that the country is in a mess with all that intellect at the top.

    Once again ineptitude in the Labour party! The Prime Minister's advisors should have warned him that the call could be taped and advised him NOT to phone but to write an apology, but this time get it right, have it checked, do what my dad used to make me do.

    But if anyone disagrees with him, ever about anything, he has a Nokia moment. Way to run a country.

    He's been got at, but in these days where we don't doff our caps and bend the knee to the likes of Mr Brown and Mr Mandleson, that's the way it goes, and if they can't take the heat, they really ought not to be in the kitchen.

    As for how her son would feel about Mrs Janes, perhaps we should ask her other son, also serving in the army. I don’t know if they are a military family, or if there is just no work in the area that they live in and, as I’ve seen so often, the military is the employer of last resort, the only chance to get out of the poverty and misery they live in and a have a decent career. It will be interesting to see if someone tries to find out how the lad’s brother feels, although as a serving man he may be unable to comment. You can only make a “free” comment if that comment agrees with Brown’s policy, as shown by the “ten past eight” interview with a junior officer the other day on the Today Programme.

    BTW. No apology was necessary... you were dead right; I should have double and triple checked the spelling on that post.

  11. Tris, I felt really bad about my response - type in haste and repent - but thanks.

    Brown is a pathetic excuse for a 'Labour' (in the true sense of that now devalued ideology) politician - and unfit to lead a clown troop - no arguments from me on that one.

    My original unedited post included the fact the uniformed services attract those with little skill, academic qualifications and, as is the tradition in this country, from disadvantaged backgrounds. However that was irrelevant in my opinion - what was relevant was her behaviour, particularly when I tried (unsuccessfully) to find empathy with her as a mum.

    The circumstances of her son's death may or may not have been relevant to procurement policy, I think less so than we care to admit - an emotionally immature nation finds death, particularly those of braveherosoldiers hard to stomach.

    I know serving military personnel who do not share the oft overused 'shortage' argument as anything other than an excuse for the one inevitable fact of waging war - death on both sides. The US army are an excellent counter to a shortage argument.

    I gave up employment in the defence industry primarily because I felt it had become an end in itself and self perpetuating - the only real product leaving the factory gate was death - on both sides - particularly in the hands of the incompetent political classes.

  12. @incoming - thanks, felt the other side had to be aired - the other side not being the New Labour side (which the dark lord Mandy is fuckin' up anyhoo) but that of a horrified mother and a detestable manipulating media machine.

    @scunnert - Family legends are informative; my family lost young men in both wars and accepted those deaths with a stoicism common to the majority of the population. Looking back it may have been wrong, but they believed it necessary at the time as did the volunteering victims.

    @banned - Brown is an idiot, and we all know he should have written a legible and coherent letter - he believed he was doing the 'right thing' - that speaks much of his judgement, however it was well intentioned.

    @AMW - this is not about the SNP, but I'll let you off - you obsessive.

    On your point of imminent threat - one could assert that there is an equally valid argument that our sovereign territory is under threat from Afghanistan (that's the NATO line) - 9/11, 7/11, the Madrid Train Bomb, Indian attacks and the Bali Bombers all had connections with Afghanistan (and Pakistani tribal areas on the border). They also had connections with Saudi, but that's another blog...