Brown's eyes are not an issue - for now

POOR old Gordon. He can't do right for wrong. Even penning a sympathy letter rebounds on him.But while his lack of judgement and policy gaffes would fill a catalogue, it is absolutely ridiculous to add his handwriting and spelling to the list.

Graham Dines

POOR old Gordon. He can't do right for wrong. Even penning a sympathy letter rebounds on him.

But while his lack of judgement and policy gaffes would fill a catalogue, it is absolutely ridiculous to add his handwriting and spelling to the list.

I have little sympathy for the political plight he finds himself. He wanted the job so much that any rivals for Labour's crown mysteriously disappeared during the leadership contest 30 months' ago. Yet quite simply he's made a cod's of it.


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However, attacking him over his eyesight is another matter. He makes little if any reference to his problems and the way in which he has overcome the handicap of having just one eye is remarkable,

His handwritten notes to the families of those killed on active service are a hallmark of his compassion when he could so easily get one of the Downing Street secretaries to print off a pro forma letter for his signature. I know grief leads to people reacting in irrational ways, but running to the media with a mis-spelt sympathy letter from a Prime Minister with a major handicap is petty in the extreme.

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Brown has now personally contacted the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan to assure her that he meant no offence when he spelt her son's name wrong in a letter of condolence. He telephoned Jacqui Janes after learning of her distress over the hand-written letter, sent after her son Jamie, 20, of the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards, was killed by an explosion on October 5, which began “Dear Mrs James.” Brown's eyes>

Mrs Janes had told The Sun: “He couldn't even be bothered to get our family name right. That made me so angry. Then I saw he had scribbled out a mistake in Jamie's name.

“The very least I would expect from Gordon Brown is to get his name right. The letter was scrawled so quickly I could hardly even read it and some of the words were half-finished. It's just disrespectful.”

This was just the kind of story to give The Sun - now firmly back in the Tory camp - an excuse for an anti-Brown story.

The Prime Minister's rebuff at the weekend G20 summit, when his “big idea” for an international banking transaction tax was given short shrift, shows that he is still flailing for political survival.

But leave his eyesight alone, unless and until it becomes a major handicap.

COLCHESTER MP Bob Russell emailed me every day last week about his long working days, from listening to Big Ben strike six in the morning to his departure from Westminster late night.

He's making the point that he needs a home in London to allow him to cope with 17-hour working days. Forcing him to commute to and from Colchester every day would significantly handicap his ability to work long hours on behalf of his constituents.

Sir Christopher Kelly's reforms end the ability of MPs living less than an hour's commute from Westminster to claim for a second home.

That should reassure Bob - given National Express's timekeeping and Network Rail's poor infrastructure maintenance between the capital and East Anglia, there's no way he lives less than an hour from the House of Commons!

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