UK Ambassador to USA resigns

:applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud::applaud:

Well done for proving my point :boogie:
You just proved mine.
You are persisting in being wrong.
Being contrary in the face of the facts doesn't make you a brave fighter against the orthodoxies of the day.
It just makes you look like a loony.
 
I apologise for what may appear to be a digression, but in a previous post I briefly mentioned that in the 1980s the British High Commissioner to Canada was recalled over something he had said. I thought the parallels with current events were interesting enough - political turmoil across the Atlantic, a British Prime Minister uncertain of support within her own party over the issue, an important ally allegedly offended (or at least pretending to be) over something said by the ambassador, the ambassador apparently recalled, and an unrelated looming crisis overshadowing it all. In the end what the ambassador had to say was soon forgotten in the rush of subsequent events. And it turns out that what he had to say was only the truth, regardless of how unpalatable some (especially those in the press) may have found it at the time.

Here below can be found a link to the story behind it. Some may wish to read it to gain a little perspective on what turned out to be a tempest in a teacup. Sir John Ford had been doing his job and apparently held no grudges, having been near retirement and subsequently going on to a successful second career. Those familiar with the era in Canada will recognise the name of the author as that of a well known politician.
Opinion: The real story of the patriation of Canada's constitution

I suspect that the "Darroch affair" will prove to be equally short lived in importance.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
But if the Ambassador was writing a SECRET brief for Ministers then surely he has a reasonable expectation of it being treated as such, and kept secret for thirty years?

Why is it promulgated as a Word (or whatever) document? Surely it needs to be either printed and the individual copies accounted for, ir put on some sort of secure system to limit access to Ministers and senior officials?
He does have reasonable expectation of such but he also has to be realistic and understand that Diplomatic traffic is a valuable target and there's no guarantee.

Larding a report with unnecessary but pejorative and eminently quotable adjectives simply makes life easier for the headline writers if something does go astray, which is why he shouldn't have done it.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
In a previous post I gave published examples of the sorts of written evaluations of personalities which are made as part of a diplomat's routine duties.

I also included a link to a report written by the British High Commissioner in Ottawa, Richard John McMoran Wilson, 2nd Baron Moran, KCMG, on what he saw at a dinner with the leader of the opposition. In it he quite incisively delved into the character and personality of the soon to be prime minister, correctly identified the future finance minister, and noted the close links with influential business and media figures.

Here's his final report on Canada as he was leaving his post to return to the UK. Although he liked Canada in general, his opinion about the Canadian political class was scathing and his opinion on Canada's PM (Pierre Trudeau) less than complementary.
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/radio4/transcripts/Lord-Moran.pdf
Here's a sample, you can read the half dozen pages for more detail if you wish. As a Canadian I find it rather uncomfortable to read, even if I don't necessarily agree with some of the things he says about Canada in general.

He does have positive things to say about Canada in general and about PM Trudeau, particularly with regards to the latter's "ruthless and effective stamping out of terrorism in Quebec in 1970, and the winning there of the referendum on (separation) ten years later", but overall I suspect the above would not have been well received in Ottawa had it been made public.

Copies of the report were distributed widely within the UK state.

The above is significant because Lord Moran himself said that his posting to Canada was the most testing of his diplomatic career.
Lord Moran - obituary

He arrived in the midst of a major political and constitutional controversy which threatened to land the UK government in a very difficult position, not only with respect to Canada but also with respect to UK legislation being defeated in the House of Commons.


To add to the difficulties Lord Moran faced, his predecessor had been recalled to London after complaints that he had been "meddling" in internal Canadian affairs.


Lord Moran successfully negotiated this minefield and explained Mrs. Thatcher's position that while she would seek to do whatever the Canadian parliament asked of her, she could not guaranty that her own own MPs would support her.


Lord Moran helped the UK avoid stepping on any mines while Trudeau successfully patched together a compromise that satisfied most of the provinces (all except Quebec), letting the UK off the hook.

This all paid dividends a few months later when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and in Lord Moran's own words “The Canadian Government did everything we asked them to do".

In 2009 the BBC obtained a copy of Lord Moran's final report on Canada under the Freedom of Information Act and published it.

His remarks were not well received by the press in Canada, although in practical terms it didn't take long for people to get over it and for it to be forgotten. Most Canadians looking at things objectively would agree with much of what he had to say at that time.

So we can see that writing potentially damaging reports about the character of the leadership of close allies is nothing new or unusual. It is part of the job of a senior diplomat. We can also see that diplomats being expected to fall on their swords (e.g. Lord Moran's predecessor) is not unprecedented either.

To those who think the ambassador should have been "more discrete" about what he wrote, these reports are supposed to be succinct and to the point as they will be read by people who haven't got a lot of time for deciphering waffle. They are also meant to be read by people who haven't spent time at Oxford or Cambridge. The reader may have even been a graduate of the LSE for that matter! Those who hold up Sir Humphrey Appleby as the model to follow may perhaps wish to recall that much of the humour relating to his circumlocutions was caused by his minister or prime minister being unable to understand what he was talking about.

The thing to remember is that this sort of material won't result in hurt feelings so long as everyone keeps their mouth shut about it and doesn't leak it. In my view the scandal regarding what happened recently is not what was written, it was about it being leaked.
I enjoyed reading that but a key point from your example is that, even at his most critical, Moran is in control of his language - he makes it very difficult to extract a high impact headline as a direct quote and generally provides evidence to support his case. The introductory sentence of the paragraph criticising Trudeau is a masterclass in balance and it's also interesting to note that Moran was not afraid to mention that his perspective differed from that of some of his colleagues.

He was working in a far less challenging communications environment where document control was a simpler matter than today, but he still took care and was not casually incendiary. That's the point.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Sorry, but that's breathtakingly un-self aware. Looking through ARRSE passim, you and a lot of other people seem to agree that the one of the main reasons for current political upheaval include: that the political class are chronically dishonest shamsters, weasel-word posturers and bluffers who've never had an opinion they can't wriggle out of in under a minute. The continual proof being that they never say what they mean. This isn't just limited to politicians: it means civil servants, Army officers, management consultants, lawyers, bankers, journalists ... basically everyone who makes public statements. A general opinion (again from ARRSE passim) seems to be that the antidote to this is more honest, straight talkers. That is clearly one of the appeals of Trump (the second bit at least).

I could go through the many posts I've written making this argument in many different ways that you've liked (which I presume means agreement), but it would be desperately boring.

To now turn around and say: "It's perfectly possible to dissemble your way through professional life without any negative consequences" is either high-grade amnesia or hypocrisy.

Sure, writing what you wrote above doesn't instantly invite lightning strikes. It's just one more weasel-worded brick building a world where nobody says what they mean, so nobody means what they say. I think that's a pretty good description of a political Dark Age.
You're essentially claiming that there's no middle ground between speaking in Linear B and calling someone a cnut, but there is and people do it all the time, with governments and companies making major decisions on the back of such reports.

Quite apart from the fact that adjectives like 'inept' and 'chaotic' are valueless without context, their use in such a casual fashion when applied to the leader of our most important strategic ally may actually tell you more about the author than the subject.
 
You're essentially claiming that there's no middle ground between speaking in Linear B and calling someone a cnut, but there is and people do it all the time, with governments and companies making major decisions on the back of such reports.

Quite apart from the fact that adjectives like 'inept' and 'chaotic' are valueless without context, their use in such a casual fashion when applied to the leader of our most important strategic ally may actually tell you more about the author than the subject.
Again, bollocks.
The ambassador could by no stretch of the imagination call the disfunctional shambles and personality cult in the White House anything other than chaotic (defined as "in a state of complete confusion and disorder") and inept ("having or showing no skill;clumsy")
These are entirely accurate descriptions of the President and his style of government.

It tells you the author has a dictionary.

It doesn't tell you that he misread someone he met with personally, and whose staff he schmoozed with.

There is no need for careful phrasing to cover your Arrse UNLESS you expect your Comms to be illegally accessed and published. When you are that frightened of your own management's treachery, something has gone seriously wrong.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Again, bollocks.
The ambassador could by no stretch of the imagination call the disfunctional shambles and personality cult in the White House anything other than chaotic (defined as "in a state of complete confusion and disorder") and inept ("having or showing no skill;clumsy")
These are entirely accurate descriptions of the President and his style of government.

It tells you the author has a dictionary.

It doesn't tell you that he misread someone he met with personally, and whose staff he schmoozed with.

There is no need for careful phrasing to cover your Arrse UNLESS you expect your Comms to be illegally accessed and published. When you are that frightened of your own management's treachery, something has gone seriously wrong.
That's your wonderfully subjective view but it doesn't change the fact that Darroch's love of intemperate expression rendered him completely impotent to the point of replacement and embarrassed the UK, not to mention probably making him a laughing stock with his professional peer group in Washington. Now that is a working definition of inept, complete with supporting evidence.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Sorry, but that's breathtakingly un-self aware. Looking through ARRSE passim, you and a lot of other people seem to agree that the one of the main reasons for current political upheaval include: that the political class are chronically dishonest shamsters, weasel-word posturers and bluffers who've never had an opinion they can't wriggle out of in under a minute. The continual proof being that they never say what they mean. This isn't just limited to politicians: it means civil servants, Army officers, management consultants, lawyers, bankers, journalists ... basically everyone who makes public statements. A general opinion (again from ARRSE passim) seems to be that the antidote to this is more honest, straight talkers. That is clearly one of the appeals of Trump (the second bit at least).

.
And without fail those straight talking tell it like it guys they laud turn out to be the most corrupt and dishonest.
 
About that consular thing, it really does not exist anymore because those pesky tax payers abroad were so annoying.
There were seven in the Philippines, one on each of the major islands until 2012 when six were relocated to desks in Manila, which rather defeats the object. There is telephone number connected to an answerphone message which tells you that you need to email for an appointment, raise the funds for an airfare and hotel and an appointment will be electronically arranged.
My sons first passport was lost by the passport agency, along with his original records of birth, doctors notes , birth certificate, photographs. It took three months and my oldest sisters MP to get them to acknowledge that they had even received the application (the fact that the £150 fee had been taken was not sufficient evidence, and it was not returnable.) we had six weeks to replace the originals with copies certified by an expensive solicitor.
My mother was dangerously ill and we needed an emergency passport for him instead. I had tried to phone the consul for my island for assistance only to be told, by a recorded message, that there were technical problems and all consular business was to be conducted on the embassy line, the one that is just a recorded message. I did get an automated response from an email promising a response within 60 DAYS, but now, 2,555 days later, I am still waiting.
A year ago, out of curiosity, I looked at their website and saw that there was an electronic diary for appointments, but the only details it will accept is company name, company registration number etc. The automated consular message still claims that there is a technical fault and all calls should be via the embassy number....
The Facebook page is policed as all messages of a negative note are removed. There are pics of drinky-poos and regular posts telling locals how many have received visas to emigrate to blighty.

Who was the Home Sec in 2012? Theresa May
Maybe it doesn't exist in the Philippines, but it does in the US. There are 8 consulates around the country. I have experience of the one in Atlanta, and became good friends with the guys there. The Consul-General I would say had a shot at being the future Ambo, but not yet, far too young in his early 40s. Thinking about it, it's essential to have these types of consulates, so that the guys can get their feet wet before becoming HMA.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
You're essentially claiming that there's no middle ground between speaking in Linear B and calling someone a cnut, but there is and people do it all the time, with governments and companies making major decisions on the back of such reports.

Quite apart from the fact that adjectives like 'inept' and 'chaotic' are valueless without context, their use in such a casual fashion when applied to the leader of our most important strategic ally may actually tell you more about the author than the subject.
As James Mattis might say: not only no, but **** no.

I'm claiming there is more value in saying "inept" and "chaotic" than trying to fluff those meanings with politeness. They have defined meanings. Inept means incompetence. Is the subject competent more or less than 50% of instances? If the answer is less, they are incompetent. The second is organised, and I'd read 'chaotic' as an implied rating: is the subject Very Organised, Quite Organised, Neither, Quite Disorganised, or Very Disorganised. "Chaotic" implys "Very Disorganised". These are qualities that can be objectively judged.

Neither of those descriptions are substantially more or less emotive or insulting. The insult is that the observer thinks you are incompetent and very disorganised! Saying that in more or less flowery language doesn't help. So you might as well be clear. He's actually very good at it. It's almost like an OJAR: what are the primary qualities of this individual? Unpredictable, faction-riven, dysfunctional, diplomatically inept. Accuracy; Brevity; Clarity.

Your suggestion of corporate language, although far too common, just muddies the meaning. "...he moves rapidly towards a conclusion, although the basis on which he does so is not always clear or robust." Well, to start, you've taken 20 words where 5 might do. In a world of 60 page weekly reports, that's a problem. Worse, I don't actually know what you mean. He invents facts? He prejudges problems? He's lazy? He's thick? All of those things could be read in to what you wrote. It's better to say: his conclusions are prejudged and not evidenced. Clear, and bounded. Assuming that is what you meant, which I'm genuinely unclear on. I know what Chaotic and Inept mean.

By the way, both of the words you chose are used as nouns, not adjectives: "less diplomatically inept", "Iran policy is chaotic". He's describing things as measurements or judgements, not adding colour. Given his experience that's a fair call for him to make - it's like a senior soldier saying: your plan is bad. The smart answer isn't "O well that's your opinion mucker", it's "can you point out the specifics which, from your experience, make you that certain?" Darroch's not saying "it's an interesting plan", or "it's a risky plan", he's saying it's definitely a bad plan.

As for there being no context. I haven't seen the full DIPTELs. Have you? Do you know there is no context in the body of the report? I suspect not. Second, every newspaper every day for three years has been providing context. He's confirming / denying what is already widely reported on.

TL : DR (ironically) Your version doesn't make things better. It makes them worse. Of course it's possible to do. But it would make his meaning less clear. That is not his job.
 
That's your wonderfully subjective view but it doesn't change the fact that Darroch's love of intemperate expression rendered him completely impotent to the point of replacement and embarrassed the UK, not to mention probably making him a laughing stock with his professional peer group in Washington. Now that is a working definition of inept, complete with supporting evidence.
Have you been drinking turps or something?

It is the objective view by the UKs most senior Ambassador of the information gained from numerous contacts with White House and American diplomatic staff. That is his job.

If he reports honestly on a chaotic shitstorm, the language should reflect the state of affairs.
It does.

The embarrassment to the UK is entirely self inflicted because it was someone in the UK who leaked classified materiel to a UK tabloid to CAUSE embarrassment to the UK.

How is the Ambassador responsible for that? Inept would be if he left his laptop on the train. How is he culpable for a security breach in the UK?
The leaker may have made us a laughing stock.
The ambassadors peers are all thinking "There but for the grace of God go I", because I would guess that they have all written the same or worse.
 
Your suggestion of corporate language, although far too common, just muddies the meaning. "...he moves rapidly towards a conclusion, although the basis on which he does so is not always clear or robust." Well, to start, you've taken 20 words where 5 might do. In a world of 60 page weekly reports, that's a problem.
I recall reading, back in the day, that the dipTel IT system has (had?) a hard coded limit of 600 words in order to make people get to the point
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
As shown on SJARS & OJARS frequently
Except that the bland staff-speak that instead populates SJARs and OJARs is even worse. It leaves grading boards to try and read the tea leaves of what some twat lobotomised by ICSC actually means in their illiterate, syllable-tastic staffeese. Given that staff-speak exists because said twat doesn't have much in the way of original thoughts, finds them hard to express even should one unexpectedly percolate out of their spinal column, and so replaces measurable brain activity with a tombola of buzzwords fired out fresh and hot like a well-balanced gun line, then you might as well just roll a dice against a dictionary and fill 1750 characters with that. The grading board then not only has to translate the latest evolution of Shrivenhamese for that twat, but also for all the hundred other twats from slightly different peer groups who are speaking Old Shrivenhamese or Late Modern Shrivenhamese, and somehow decide how all the different dialects relate to each other.

At least calling someone inept and chaotic makes your point understood clearly and concisely, leaving 1735 characters for more in-depth character assassination.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
And without fail those straight talking tell it like it guys they laud turn out to be the most corrupt and dishonest.
I'd contest that. Yes, the straight talking guys who are also obviously corrupt and dishonest, are corrupt and dishonest. They're also not 'straight talking' (if you mean Trump and/or Farage and/or Boris), they're just smashing taboos because it's fun and wins votes.

There are other, less flamboyant, examples of some straight talking. Jess Phillips, Rory Stewart, Ken Clarke (I mean he's basically dead so he might as well), even, in his early leadership, Jeremy Corbyn (before he realised he had to lie or resign, because his beliefs and public statements were incompatible).

The differentiation isn't 'straight talking', it's 'honest'.
 

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