Opinion / Public Speaking and Speechwriting

Brexit: So, Farewell Then EU

Blimey. It’s hard to grasp. Today the UK leaves the European Union. BREXIT. Nearly 50 years. Thanks, but no thanks. Enough is enough. I recall with shame my quite useless performance in a walk-on debate role at the Oxford Union back in 1975 when we had our first EU referendum, nay […]

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Remembering Alyson Bailes (2)

You’ll recall my tribute to the late Alyson Bailes, perhaps the brainiest diplomat of All Time. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography asked me to write their entry on her, and here it now is as posted today. There’s rightly a strong factual format to these ODNB entries, many of […]

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Remembering Lady Thatcher (Again)

To mark the tenth anniversary on 13 January of the unveiling of a portrait of Lady Thatcher, here again is my piece from then about that fine event. It was posted over at the late lamented PunditWire site that has vanished from the Internet * * * * * Several […]

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Vulnerable Speechwriters

So here’s a nice question for the new decade that came my way today. Is THIS how I should present myself to my fellow speechwriters? I’m Charles, I used to be in the Foreign Office a long time ago, but everything has moved on now. I’m really here to listen […]

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Brexit: WGO

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT ponders the mysteries of Brexit: In honour of Brexit, I have invented a fine new international acronym: WGO. Not the World Gangster Organisation. Nor the Women Gender Option. Not even (yet) the Western Gulag Office. WGO stands for the core question that needs to be […]

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Darroch and Diplomacy (3)

My two previous posts explained some of the ‘internal’ technique issues arising from Sir Kim’s Darroch resignation as UK Ambassador to Washington. How have our leaders dealt with it? Badly. One key moment was the televised debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt as the vie to become the next […]

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President Trump D-Day Speech

Here is the full text of President Trump’s D-Day speech. And here is the video of him delivering it: It’s a momentous piece of work. Of course, there is remarkable material to work with – the drama of the Normandy invasion and what was at stake, and the scale of […]

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Diplomatic Protocol Disasters

Time for a handy round-up of some excellent diplomatic protocol shockers. ‘Protocol’ at the highest level of state and in wider international contexts is interesting because it features all sorts of ‘solemnity’, dignity, respect, deference and other lofty virtues that have their place when the time is right. So when […]

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Diplomatic Visits

My piece at DIPLOMAT magazine on the trials and tribulations of organising diplomatic visits appears. Thus: Visits come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re largely symbolic– a senior gesture to show that the bilateral relationship is warm and alive, but not much more than that. Sometimes there’s serious diplomatic business […]

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Bad PowerPoint Rules

Peruse the Internet for advice on how to create a good PowerPoint presentation and you find different Rules. One famous Rule is the 10/20/30 rule promulgated by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki: It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than […]

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