Oxford educated Adam Boulton (married to Tony's great schooltime friend Anjie Hunter AKA 'the gatekeeper' or 'the comfort blanket,' ) Interviewed the person we have learnt to call the Foreign Secretary, Mrs. Margaret Beckett M.P. on Sunday 24th September on Sky News "Sunday live" .
To many outside the muttering Metropolitan classes the exchnage may have (and probably did) seem... er ... Beckettesque .... perhaps best conducted on a lonely windswept park bench by two tramps as the imcomprehension rises on both sides ...
Boulton: Yet we still have quite a lot of dissent about the way Labour has lead in foreign policy. We’ve got a former ambassador to Rome, to Dublin , sending out his farewell telegram basically saying that expert advice in the foreign office is being ignored, that money is being wasted on consultants. That basically Number Ten doesn’t listen to the people who are paid to know about these things in your department, the Foreign Office.
Beckett: Well that’s not something that I’m aware of….
Boulton: You’re not aware of this telegram from Ivor Roberts?
Beckett: I’m afraid no I have not seen it. I have as you may notice, as you say, been rather busy at the United Nations.
Boulton: And are you aware that future such telegrams have now been banned in the Foreign Office? That sounds rather draconian.
Pendennis in the Observer February 11th 2007 having seen the telegram dribbled a little bit more to an eager public.
Lord Patel brought the attention of readers to the curious question raised in the House of Commons on Thursday March 22nd 2007 - Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) the courteous man who was so famously polite to Dr David Kelly (Dcsd) is asking some apparently odd Parliamentary questions of the fragrant Margaret, Secretary of State for Caravanners & Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. He apparently wants to know, " for what reason the practice by retiring ambassadors of sending valedictory telegrams has ceased."
Furthermore he asks, " would she place in the Library a copy of the valedictory telegram sent by Ambassador Sir Ivor Roberts KCMG on the conclusion of his ambassadorship to Italy and his retirement from the diplomatic service".
The questions remain unanswered but evidently the contents have been widely circulated in Whitehall and journalistic circles and it's author was interviewed on the BBC4 "PM" program tonight at 5.40 pm. This followed a fascinating article in the Independent today
by Donald Macintyre from Jeruslaem " Former envoy makes devastating attack on Blair's 'bullshit bingo' management culture of diplomacy"
Urbane, precise, well educated, the acme of a british diplomat was the author of remark (subsequently leaked) in 2004 that President George Bush was "al-Qa'ida's best recruiting sergeant" causing what passes for a riot in diplomatic circles, especially when he added,"If there is anyone ready to celebrate his eventual re-election, it is al Qaeda."
Now in his valedictory message , from what he says will be seen as a last gasp of an "old fart" he says the FO should stop wasting time on managment inititaves, reviews, consultants and concentrate on urgent issues that the old Planning department used to spend their time on : "Iraq: How did we get into this mess and how to extricate ourselves" and "Why are we so hated in the Middle East and what should we do about it?".
He also quotes the remark by the former Hong Kong governor and European commissioner Chris Patten's that it was "sad to see experienced diplomats trained to draft brief and lucid telegrams ... terrorised into filling questionnaires by management consultants by the yard."
Until the fragrant Margaret answers Mr McKinleys Parlimanetary question the reader is best advised to turn to today's Independent to glean from their scattered quotes what he has to say about the conduct of Foreign Policy for the last 15-20 years.
He did say something about the way groups of powerful Israelis have power and exercise it... something the Indpendent forgot to mention.Sir Ivor has also said that the Bush administration was "conditioned and pressured by groups of powerful Israelis".... something the Independent forgot to mention but which you can read about in the Scotsman of 21/9/06.
Pic Al Quaeda recruiting sergeant at work.