Opinion / British Politics and Society

Syria: Red Lines

Take a look at my previous thoughts on Syria and diplomacy. Quite a lot of them. Every pessimistic prediction has been borne out and worse. Remember the long list of Hillary, Obama, Cameron and others who faux-toughly intoned that Assad must go!  They’ve gone. He’s still there. This proclamation, BTW, is […]

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Faux Authenticity

Over on LinkedIn I stumble over Ten Unmistakable Habits of Utterly (sic) Authentic People. Complete with a picture of a toothsome massively haired young female for added clicks. Thus: To live authentically, you must own your actions and ensure that they align with your beliefs and needs. This can be a […]

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Russia: Now What?

Vladimir Putin wins a landslide victory! Six more years! Even Vladimir Zhirinovsky complains that Russia is no longer a democracy, and he should know! Once upon a time there was a Cold War. We all knew where we were amidst ‘East-West (sic) relations’. Responses to policy moves could be fine-tuned. […]

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Skripal: Expelling Spies (Again)

Back in January last year I opined on the negotiation psychology of spy expulsions: It’s of course possible that as part of its New Psychological Approach, Moscow chooses deliberately to work out what everyone expects then not do that. Think about it. You cause the other side to think hard about […]

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Starting a Speech by Being Funny

This is my most popular answer on Quora with over 20,000 views, replying to an interesting question: What is the funniest opening line that you have heard (or said) in a public speech? Hmm. Right Ho, Jeeves “Boys,” said Gussie, “I mean ladies and gentlemen and boys, I do not […]

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Back to Toastmasters

You recall my exciting controversial Toastmasters adventures earlier this year? Here and then here. A member of a Vienna Toastmasters club who joined one of my ‘live’ masterclasses on Public Speaking kindly invited me to address her club when I was next in town. I warned her that I had […]

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Writing a Record of Conversation

One of the darker diplomatic and wider professional arts is writing a record of a conversation. There’s a lot going on here: what to summarise – the words, the context, the ‘tone’, the silences? how in principle to summarise it – should the material be presented in the order it was spoken, […]

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Toastmasters Evaluated (2)

+++ Update +++ See Brian Jenner’s positive tale on Toastmasters and their rituals here. As you can see, my education is complete! * * * * * My piece on Toastmasters has attracted some modest interest, including in the Comments and via LinkedIn. Both Against and For. Against I came, […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat (4)

You’re all sick of this subject. But via helpful Manfred Rosenbauer on Twitter we get what look like the FCO’s ipsissima verba so why not record them here? This is a Diplomatic Note Verbale. It’s forms of courtly courtesy go back centuries. No-one knows what a Note that is non-Verbale might look like. […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat (3)

Over at Craig Murray, one John Spencer-Davis has been arguing with me re J Assange’s diplomatic status: Let’s deal first with your point about Article 38 – I have already answered it, but you may have missed that. “Except insofar as additional privileges and immunities may be granted by the receiving […]

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