Thursday, December 20, 2007
My great friend, former Foreign Office grandee and Russian expert, George Walden, predicted the Russians would pull out of the Royal Academy Exhibition. Why? Because last Saturday David Miliband, our strange-looking Foreign Secretary, made a rooky diplomatic error - he muddled two separate issues. On his blog he wrote`;
'Many people are looking forward to the Russian Masterpieces exhibition coming to London next year. Rightly. But what on earth can the Russians think will be achieved by forcing the closure of British Council offices outside Moscow? It is illegal (against the 1963 Vienna Agreement), hurts Russians, and damages Russia's image abroad. There is even a debate about whether the Russian measures are MORE restrictive than those against the British Council in Burma and Iran. I hope the government will think again before January 1st.'
Okay, Dave, listen carefully. If the RA show doesn't go ahead, it's your fault. The linkage made in your blog amounted to a deliberate challenge to the Russians and, though Putin may be Time's Person of the Year, we all know this is a gangster government. If you put one of a gangster's buddies in hospital, he'll put one of yours in the morgue. The trick is to outwit the gangster by not letting him make linkages. In this case you did it for him and also inspired headlines that suggested we might pull out of the exhibition. And, Dave, while we are on the subject, does it make sense for a Foreign Secretary to have a blog? A blog suggests you are going to go beyond the official line. But, as this case shows, you can't. And one final question, Dave. Are you or are you not a member of the most jejune and incompetent British administration of modern times?
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 10:48 am