Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Rooting out the unbelievers

The motivation of the individual who leaked memos written by the UK’s ambassador giving his honest and frank assessment of the Trump administration remains unclear, although it seems likely that it is linked in some way or another to the ongoing Brexit debate.  Whatever the reason, it seems unlikely that the ambassador’s continued tenure of the post will be tenable for much longer, although I suspect that his replacement will be left to the new PM after a decent period.
The reaction to the leak raises some interesting questions about the basis on which ambassadors are appointed.  The leader of the Nigel Farage plc Party said that, “From the moment Trump was elected, this man was the wrong person to be the British ambassador – a globalist in outlook, totally opposed to the Trump doctrine”.  But why should being “opposed to the Trump doctrine” be a disqualification to representing the UK’s interests in the US?  I rather suspect that ‘our man in Tehran’ may not be an avid fan of certain aspects of the Iranian regime, and I’m fairly certain that ‘our man in Pyongyang’ may have a reservation or two about the character of Kim Jong-un.  I’m sure that both of them express their views on a regular basis to their masters in London.  Whilst being able to maintain a working relationship with the relevant foreign government is a prerequisite of the job, supporting and promoting the views of that government is most definitely not part of their role.  And while replacing individual ambassadors who find themselves out of tune with their own government might be necessary from time to time, replacing those who find themselves out of tune with the government of the country where they are deployed is definitely not.  The idea that Trump should have some sort of veto, or even influence, over who is appointed to represent another country in the US would be a very dangerous precedent.  Whether Boris Johnson will see things in those terms, or lean to the Farageist viewpoint will be an early test of the man.
The journalist who broke the story in the Mail on Sunday said that she was enjoying the conspiracy stories about a possible hidden agenda behind the leak, but that the truth was much simpler – “In the absence of government, the civil service becomes politicised”.  I’m not at all convinced about the ‘no hidden agenda’ part, but the bits about ‘absence of government’ and ‘politicisation of the civil service’ are all too credible.  In reality, of course, the civil service has always been highly politicised; not so much in a party-political sense as in the sense of being drawn from a particular educational and class background and being highly small-c conservative.  That didn’t start with the absence of government though; and the absence of government isn’t the only driver of further politicisation.  There is a prevailing attitude amongst the Brexiteers that anyone senior who doesn’t share their view needs to be rooted out and replaced, and that looks to me to be part of the agenda in leaking these memos.  It’s a trend which should worry people more than it seems to.

1 comment:

Spirit of BME said...

Poor Little Kimmy Darroch has gone under the bus.
Your post touches on some very interesting points, but (I fear) of the big five Embassy postings have been used as political give-aways by several Prime Ministers. Little Jimmy Callaghan installed his son in law in Washington and Blair positioned people that would give him total support. Kimmy was known to be in-tune with the previous administration, therefore the charge that his work for a post Brexit deal was been carried out `without enthusiasm`, was an easy one to throw at him.
I am at a loss to identify the motive for this release of information ,as my chums in `dark places` tell me the report was marked `Sensitive` which is the lowest level of confidentiality and as a result the circulation could run into hundreds ,so don`t hold your breath for the plods bagging anyone soon.
Lastly, from what we have seen of the report, if that was sent to me ,I would send it back with a note stating that the information it contained, I could see on the Channel Four, BBC News and Sky news every week since the start of Donal John`s administration, at the cost of a TV licence and we do not pay six sum salary p.a to tell me that.