Have a look at this article and see if you can spot Britain’s ambassador to Zimbabwe. Dreadful, sycophantic dwarf.
The quality, if I can use that word, of some of Britain’s diplomatic staff is truly shocking. Ms Laing’s predecessor was even worse; a hypocritical bigot of the first order.
13 thoughts on “Her Majesty’s Representative”
Sipu, the closest I ever got to the Service was dancing with the daughter of the HC for Rhodesia in 1961. She was equally unprepossessing! 😳
Hi Janus, was that by any chance a Ramsay girl, one of the daughters of Lord Dalhousie? Though he may have been Governor of the Federation or something.
Sorry, can’t remember. If she’d been hot totty…….. 😝
omg, and we thought Cathy Ashton was bad!
In the course of my professional career I have met many British High Commissioners of remote outposts of the Commonwealth. All were, to a man, charming, educated, sanguine and excellent ambassadors for our country and our national interest as it then was. And I am talking as recently as twenty years ago.
Sadly, our national interest seems to have been hijacked since by shallow Whitehall self-servers seemingly educated on Faceache and suchlike with no idea whatsoever how to promote Britain’s position in the real world with any kind of gravitas. For example, the writing was on the wall back in the nineties when I happened to visit the new office of the Representative of the European Union (or whatever the title was) in Vanuatu. Said representative was Belgian and I am sure his successors ( Estonian, Maltese, Lithuanian, Portuguese???) are still there with the hateful starred flag an’ all prominent behind the desk, but the point is there is no longer a British High Commissioner in Port Vila Linkey thing unlike the French, who to this day maintain an Embassy. Linkey thing there.
OZ: the French are unashamedly and unabashedly French. The French continue to invest heavily in maintaining the world’s finest diplomatic corps. The French invest heavily in ensuring that the French language is taught correctly and rigorously in all corners of the world. The French invest heavily in maintaining the position of Air France as a world-class airline. The French invest heavily in ensuring that their culture and products continue to be a part of life everywhere in the world. The British haven’t done nearly as well in this respect. The French are not PC and their diplomats, for example, are the best France has to offer. The British have borrowed lunatic ideas from the gobshites south of Canada and the quality of British diplomats, while still tolerable, is not what it was before Tone Bliar started polluting 10 Downing Street with his odious presence. To save money, probably for the sake of giving India another £100 million or so despite their requests to stop, British diplomatic interests in minor countries such as Tonga, Vanuatu or Samoa are accredited to British High Commissions in Wellington, Canberra, etc. and local interests are taken care of by New Zealand or Australian High Commissions on behalf of the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom is culturally the world’s greatest power. It is one of the world’s most popular and well-regarded countries. It is certainly seen in a far better light than the rat’s nest south of Canada. However, unlike France which unflinchingly puts itself at the centre of the French-speaking world, the British have through inaction and complacency ceded their rightful place to Canada’s unsavoury neighbour. If the United Kingdom’s government would remove its cranium from its current rectal position and take a lesson from France many would be shocked at just how easy it would be for the UK to recover clout seemingly lost.
I refer my Honourable Friend to my question posted on the wrong blog – sources? 😛
And talking of representatives, Sipu, what price the jobsworth public plutocrats in Paris this last couple of weeks?
Emperor’s New Clothes all over again. Empty promises, unfathomable calculations, zillions in hotel/restaurant bills. That’s the life.
Christopher – Sigh! You are quite right to state that the French are totally for France and not at all PC, or even, if I may add, European. Le belle France maintains to this day a colonial empire in the South Pacific partly to legitimise continued Air France connections to these lonely, subsidised and sullen outposts as a modern-day stepping stone to Australasia. I have been many times to Vanuatu, Nouvelle Caledonie, Tahiti and other parts of French Polynesia. Apart from in the former, where the Brits were also involved in the Condominium (or Pandemonium, as it was locally known), the first things you see on disembarking the plane in Noumea or Pape’ete is a gendarme, a Citroen and the ‘kin Tricolour.
There is nothing more depressing than seeing some massive Polynesian, who cannot even afford a beer in one of the French subsidised and French operated tourist resorts plonked on ancestral beaches, shuffling along the quay with an armful of baguettes. I bought a book in Auckland, first published in 1919, which chronicles even then the sorrowful decline of culture and population in the Marquesas, a remote part of French Polynesia supplied by Air France.
And whenever we are discussing France in the Pacific let us never, ever forget the French government authorised attack in 1985 on the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour causing the sinking of the ship and the death of Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira. I am no supporter of Greenpeace these days, but they were there to oppose French nuclear tests on Moruroa.
The Frog PM at the time, one Laurent Fabius, initially gave a typically Gallic shrug of the shoulders with a snort and denied all knowledge until proven to have lied through his teeth. Incidentally, this is the same Laurent Fabius who, thirty years later in his latest reincarnation as foreign minister, was on his hind legs only this morning in Paris hailing the result of the latest round in the interminable global warming scam.
Janus: over the past years I’ve read a number or articles and opinion pieces on this matter. Some were written by former British diplomats such as Charles Crawford whereas others were written by well-informed commentators such as Daniel Hannan or the rabble-rousing, but often insightful, James Delingpole.
Oz: Air France, of course, have another advantage — their UK network is quite good and their choice of international destinations is sometimes better than BA’s. For example, someone living in Bristol or Geordiecastle-on-Tyne needing to fly to Osaka or Santiago de Chile could easily make it with a single connexion in Paris.
That book you mentioned, is it Paul Gauguin’s “Noa Noa”? I bought a copy of it a few years ago after a special exhibit of Impressionist masterpieces at the DeYoung in San Francisco. I gave a copy of it to a favourite aunt who goes to French Polynesia on a somewhat regular basis. Tahiti is utterly and absolutely ruined. It is less the centre of a Polynesian kingdom, what it was formerly, than it is a far-flung Parisian banlieue, Favourite aunt, a giant of a woman — over 6 feet with the physique of a Samoan warrior-queen, compared Pape’ete to Tijuana. An old university-type chum grew up there and warned me to consider it as little more than an airport and take a connecting flight to a better island PDQ.
The French have been little better in the Americas than they were in the Pacific. Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and French colonies remain tied to France out of fear. Haiti was made an example of by France. They simply couldn’t stand the fact that a motley band of former slaves could triumph and throw them out. St Pierre et Miquelon is caught in a bizarre demi-world. They can see Canada, they shop in Canada and they rely on Canada for their very survival, but France oblige them to use euros and import an inordinate amount from the Metropole despite it being far cheaper to take a boat to far cheaper, more convenient shops in Canada.
Christopher, I don’t buy your generalisation about Brit diplomacy. Of course there have always been weak links which make tasty hack fodder but otherwise…..
Janus: I didn’t intend to disparage British diplomacy. My main point was that, especially under Tone Bliar and Gorgon MacQuisling, the FCO was neglected and grew too PC when selecting diplomats. Top candidates continued to be recruited, but race, gender and bedroom preferences became factors so that simply being the best candidate was no longer enough.
Christopher – The book is called ‘White Shadows in the South Seas’ written by one Frederick O’Brien. My copy was printed in Murca in September 1919 and is presumably a first edition. There is a handwritten annotation tracing it to the Ritz Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia, in February 1927 and an undated but very old stamp from the Cottage Hotel, Hope Cove, South Devon. presumably the one on the south coast of Blighty. Both these hotels still exist. As I said, I bought the book in Auckland, NZ, in the early 90s and am intrigued as to its history and travels.