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I run my own consultancy specialising in digital content and strategy and sit on the Board at Crowdbnk.

I chair Trinity Hospice, Clapham, NHS Innovations SE, Major Stanley's Trust at Oxford and the Great Retail Revival Foundation.

I am also on the CITI Advisory Board @ Columbia University, NY.  

 

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Foreign Affairs

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29
MAR
On Wednesday, I limped eventually to Colchester (my Volvo C70's engine developed a rasping noise to it...) to interview four CRGS students for this year's travel scholarship (I started it last year). Chloe Bates was the clear winner. She had already raised £4000 for her stay in a Cape Town townships where she will support abused young girls. She needs £5600 in total so I awarded her £400. Ben Rowe was the runner up. He will be trekking and studying in the...
29
MAR
I sent a short and pithy note to the Clerk late last year: As a result of the failure to agree policy on Syria by both the UK Govt and its counterpart in America, hard power has failed as a foreign policy objective. We have some brilliant global soft power players - the British Council, BBC World Service, our great national museums and galleries and four or five world class universities. There is one area where there is a need for UKplc to take a bold step and we have an...
8
DEC
Hard & Soft Power by Derek Wyatt   Shortly, we shall be celebrating, if that’s the appropriate word, the centenary of the beginning of World War 1, the war to end all wars.   The statistics are horrific – 37 million were killed (military and civilian). The Russian Empire lost over 3 million soldiers and had a further 4 million injured. The French also suffered with 1.3 million military deaths and 4.2 million injured whilst we Brits lost nearly 900,000 and had 1.6m
7
NOV
Thank you for standing with Tibet. Boost this campaign now by sharing the email below and post this link to your facebook wall: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_tibet_loc/?tkFvVdb Thanks for all that you do, The Avaaz team -------------- Dear Friends, Tibetans who refuse to fly the Chinese flag above their homes risk being beaten or shot in the latest attempt to break their spirits. But now is the best moment in ages to bring hope to Tibet's proud, but desperate...
2
NOV
I met Dudley Ankerson in Argentina in 1980 and we have been firm friends ever since. He worked in the FCO all his life and yesterday we met for a glass of wine. He gently dropped into the conversation that he'd been awarded a CMG for his work. I had missed it in the Queen's Birthday Honours and felt slightly embarrassed but nonetheless am thrilled he has been awarded it. He will receive it in December and then we are all going out for lunch.
23
SEP
The Syrian War has brought into sharp relief the miserable Russians whose Government struggles to maintain an independent judiciary, is economical with the truth, believes President Ass-Ad and thinks it is still important on the world stage. Why on earth it was allowed into the G8 is a mystery. But, Cameron's blunder and Obama error of judgement, means that the West has exchanged the Cold War for the Faux War. The Chinese must be laughing in their bird's nest soup.
28
AUG
Syria was a French "territory" after WW1 and they put the Assad family into power in the last century. if anyone should be leading on Syria it should be the French.  America has dithered over Syria as its elasticated red line has finally caused it a major headache. But the UK now seems ready to take up the gauntlet with America. Pray, what has Syria to do with the UK? The West stood by on Egypt, helped in Libya and did nothing in Tunisia or Bahrain.  Russia, now a...
18
JUL
Dr Ian Goldin is Director of the Oxford Martin School having served in high places for most of his career. This book makes depressing reading as it highlights the failures of most of the institutions created out of the Second World War - UNO, IMF, World Bank, WTO et al. Most of all he bemoans the decision making processes. He should be in the House of Lords. 
18
JUL
BABA JUKWA WRITES ON HOW THE ELECTIONS WILL BE RIGGED – WITH THE HELP OF AN ISRAELI FIRM, NIKUV   12 July 2013 Here is how election rigging will be done. Zanu Pf knows that it needs about 400,000 votes to win the Presidency with 51%. Never mind MPs because they know they are beaten there. 1.Special voting names are going to be used again on July 31. 2.Chihuri has registered 30,000 plus relatives of service personnel as Police officers, they are being intimidated that your...
10
JUL
I went to Addis Ababa in 2004 en route to Malawi to discuss the Maqdala Treasures held illegally by the British Museum with the Archbishop of Addis and Richard Pankhurst. Ever since, I have kept a close eye on the country. Yesterday, I met my dear friend, HE Ambassador Berhanu Kebede, for lunch and he asked me to return to Addis to help with the training of their MPs.
15
JUN
The West dithered over Syria for two years and now look at the mess. (BBC has had an excellent three part documentary on the tragedy of Iraq which is now worse after an occupation longer than a combined duration of WW1 and WW2 and worse some of this has spilled over to both Afghanistan and Pakistan). If USA now offers weapons to the opposition because it is petrified of another Iraq then what happens if they opposition loses? 
6
JUN
For awhile I have thought there needs to be an Internet Policy Institute and more recently I think there needs to be a response to what a thinner more flexible UNO might look like by 2030 (in fact I doubt in could survive that long). Anyway, I pitched some ideas in the City yesterday.
30
APR
Memorial Service for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi @ Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, SW1 I went to Ethiopia en route to Malawi in 2002. I stayed with Myles Wickstead our Ambassador there and met Patriarch Abune Paulos, of the Orthodox Tewakedo Church (part of the larger Coptic Church in Africa), Richard Pankhurst and several Ethiopian ministers and MPs. We talked endlessly about the repatriation of the Magdala Treasures from the British Museum - which I had strongly supported. The...
9
APR
Middle East Muddle by Derek Wyatt  Neither America nor Britain has a clue on how to bring peace to the Middle East. The Quartet led by Tony Blair has given new meaning to the word anaemic. There's no chance of a two state solution ever happening.  President Obama's recent visit to Israel produced nothing more than warm words. William Hague has no leeway at all since the department he runs, irrespective of who is in government, has been distinctly pro-Israeli for the past twenty...
12
JAN
I spent an hour with Gal on Thursday going over all the contacts he met in India during his four month sojourn there. Gal is keen to establish a housing micro-finance bank.
19
DEC
UBS was fined US$1.5 billion for deliberately fixing Libor. It can somehow set this against tax which is doubly unfair on the voting public and taxpayers. They are a Useless Bloody Shower. When HSBC was also fined recently following the laundering of drug money from Mexico and elsewhere I closed my account after 40 years with them and moved it to the Coop Bank.
17
NOV
Israel's intentions in the Mid East are blindingly obvious. She will either try and destroy Hamas in Gaza and seek some kind of authority over it or push it back into the hands of a compliant Egypt. This would end the White House and Quartet's view of a two state solution for Palestine and Israel which has been a daft idea from the outset.  The Brits are good and backing the wrong horse all over the Middle East and greater India. We  fell for the West and East Pakistan...
13
AUG
The Honours We could have given at Wimbledon and the R&A in 2012: Honorary knight/dame hoods Tennis Roger Federer Pete Sampras Billie-Jean King Martina Navratilova Steffi Graf Golf Jack Nicklaus Tom Watson  
1
AUG
Why did Putin block further action on Syria? Was it because Syria represents the last vestige of its old world power base from its communist days? Russia is a spent force in the new China-India-American axis. Her media hardly covers the Syrian civil war and yet Putin will not concede that his policies are causing real harm. And when the war is over Russia will have lost its influence there for good. Then there are all these show trials and arrests for people wanting to...
3
JUL
On Sunday I joined a couple of thousand Canadian citizens celebrating their national day in Trafalgar Square. On 1st July 1867, Canada became an independent country though as per usual we Brits kept hold of some powers which were gradually relinquished...... My mother was born in Ottawa and raised in Vancouver and my (late) brother and sister took Canadian citizenship when they moved to British Columbia in 1967 and 1972 respectively. Since 1979, I have visited Vancouver (x8),...
28
MAY
Israeli companies should not get UN contracts to rebuild Gaza 28 May 2012 - For immediate release Caabu condemns the reported decision by the UN to award contracts to Israeli companies to help in rebuilding Gaza. These contracts should be cancelled with immediate effect and the UK government should make known its strong disagreement. Two Israeli companies have won UNICEF contracts to build water plants inside the Gaza Strip. Much of Gaza's infrastructure had been destroyed by
16
MAY
The CAABU Executive met again yesterday evening. We have now had four letters in Private Eye putting right a scurrilous piece they wrote about us two editions ago. Nonetheless, we are still struggling to make ends meet and we may yet have to close if we do not find further funding.
18
APR
We had another meeting of the CAABU executive last night to examine our future funding. We also discussed the appalling smears in Private Eye. 
5
APR
Giving Back: it's what we're here for.   My mother was fond of telling me that I was luckier than most children and that at some stage in my life I should learn to "Give Back". I always thought she was a sandwich short of a picnic, as though as a boy of 12, I could understand what on earth she meant.   Fast forward forty years and my own children are almost deaf from a similar refrain from me - if not "Give Back" more "You Owe" as in "You are also blessed and you owe". I'm not...
2
APR
Your domestic economy's inflation rate is 22% yet you only tell your citizens that it is 7%; the blogs and tweets are over flowing with this discrepancy. So as the President of Argentina you switch courses and concentrate on foreign policy and in particular, the ownerrship of the Falklands. So on this 30th anniversary, the Argentine President invites all the Presidents of Latin America and then when they say "No" their Ambassadors all of whom also said "No". But don't expect to see this...
14
MAR
Though we are not out of the woods quite yet, we had a constructive meeting of the CAABU executive board yesterday.
6
MAR
In my library I have three copies of books on Hillary Clinton long before she declared her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for President. They are:   The First Partner by Joyce Milton (1999) Hillary's Choice by Gail Sheehy (1999) and Living History: A Memoir HRC (2003) A cursory glance at Amazon brings up: It Takes a Village HRC A Woman in Charge by Carl Bernstein Leadership Secrets by Rebecca Shambaugh Hillary Clinton: Her Way by Jeff Gerth Target:...
3
MAR
Five years ago it might have been fashionable to include Russia in. It is clear that Russia is not going to develop into a modern thrusting economy based on open, transparent democratic procedures. She is as corrupt as she was under Peter the Great notwithstanding how hard he tried to modernise the state. Under Putin's malevolent influence, Russia ia riddled with corruption from the law courts, to the banks, to the police and to the politicians. Journalists wanting to report on all this
2
MAR
I went to Seoul in 2008 courtesy of Samsung and had dinner with Martin Uden, our UK Ambassador; we had previously met in San Francisco where he was the Consular General. I then spoke at a Korean Government sponsored ICT conference in 2009 and met up with Martin again. He is back from Korea and working at UKTI whilst he finds another placement. We had a lively meeting of minds last night!
26
FEB
1) Caabu's Emergency Fundraising Appeal   In January we launched an  emergency appeal to save Caabu from closure. We need to raise £225,000 to cover our 2012 costs.   The response from members and donors has been swift and we have raised over £30,000 this month, much of this through very kind and generous donations from our members and supporters. We would like to thank everyone who has made a donation of whatever size. All donations help and make a real difference!...
23
FEB
Why is our Embassy still open in Syria? Why aren't we arming the opposition as we did in Libya? Why are we so timid in taking on the Arab world, Russia and China? Where is the leadership in the Western World?
23
FEB
Pity a Greek citizen; none of the about to be agreed EU second bail out (£zillions) will find its way to help them on the ground. This is just to ease the many and varied European banks debts. Of course the Greek government is petrified at what might happen if it goes bankrupt but to be frank, I can see no other options. These self same politicians lied to gain access to the euro-club and they must own up. My sense is that they will all be swept from power at the next election as
11
FEB
What a sad place Argentina is. Let me rephrase that. What an appalling set of politicians have led that country since the WW2. It is hard to believe that between WW1 and WW2 Argentina had the world's fourth largest economy. It has largely been downhill ever since. When your economy has failed to grow year after year after year (how on earth is she a member of the G20?) all you can do is lock up your political opponents (occasionally brutalising them), give up your country to a
10
FEB
The basket case aka as Greece simply cannot take any more punishment. Her feeble political leaders need to grasp their last chance and step back from membership of the euro. They have lived in their own bubble too long and seem powerless to want to introduce any policies which will actually help their own people. Maybe we can expect a Greek Spring soon when these MPs are driven from their positions in the April elections. Bring it on.
18
JAN
CAABU (originally the Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding) founded just after the Six Day war in 1967 is in danger of closure. At last night's board meeting we planned a major fund raising venture to see if we could find £200k+ to stave off having to wind the organisation up.
17
JAN
Her Excellency Dr Norah Al Fayez, Deputy Minister for Girls in Saudi Arabia, visited the King Fahad Academy yesterday and spent an hour or so meeting staff and students. (I was there in my capacity as a Board member of the school).
15
DEC
I went to Parliament this morning to listen and meet Tawakkol Karman, the Yemeni woman who has just won the Nobel Peace prize for 2011. She was an inspiration. I do hope she becomes President when elections are announced. Nobel Peace Laureate Tawwakul Karman has called on the British government to freeze the assets of Ali Abdullah Saleh during a meeting in the Houses of Parliament.   Speaking shortly after meeting with Foreign Secretary William Hague and Development Minister...
20
NOV
I bumped in to HE at the Labour Party conference and we agreed to meeet up afterwards and we did so on Thursday. Ethiopia will be hosting a "Davos" in May, 2012 and we talked that through.
10
NOV
UK to abstain in a UN vote on Palestine   The UK will abstain in a United Nations (UN) vote on Palestinian statehood, Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons during a statement on the Middle East.   In response, Douglas Alexander MP, the Shadow Foreign Secretary said "Given the absence of any meaningful negotiations between the parties at present, a point which I am sure the Foreign Secretary will not dispute, can he tell the House how his position of having no
27
OCT
I love Italy and hope one day to semi-retire there if that's not an oxymoron........talking of oxymoron's what on earth is Burlesque Berlusconi up to? He is am embarrassment to his people. 
19
OCT
I went to the CAABU Executive Committee meeting last night. As in all these kinds of organisations we talk less about the political and hot issues and more about our schools' programme and fund raising. You can become a member and join our 500 Club at www.caabu.org  
11
OCT
There were horrible scenes in and near Tahrir Square yesterday when the Christian Cops were attacked by Muslim fundamentalists with a score or more left for dead and hundreds injured. Once again the Military intervention was too little too late.
11
OCT
http://www.caabu.org/get-involved/500-club
9
OCT
The only thing you learn from history is that you don't learn from history and no where is that more apparent than in Afghanistan which we invaded ten years ago. In our previous three wars there we came second but few politicians let alone our dreadful Foreign Office officials care much for history.   Our troops should come home.
6
OCT
THE BEDOUIN in ISRAEL: In The Guardian Talab El Sana, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset from the Negev region, says that as the Israeli government's plans to relocate up to 30,000 Bedouin from unrecognised villages in the Negev violate international laws and conventions, this issue will be taken to the UN and other bodies. Britain has a particular responsibility and a special role to play. After all, the Balfour declaration – which laid the foundation for the creation of Israel – states
20
SEP
In the week when Palestine will seek official recognition as a country from the UNO Security Council which sadly America and the UK will veto or rather the UK will hide behind America and allow them to veto despite support from Russia and China (how bankrupt is the West over this issue?), I went this morning to the CAABU offices in Gough Square to a round table discussion led by two members of Ir Amin.  Ir Amim ("City of Nations" or "City of Peoples") focuses on Jerusalem...
20
SEP
Labour Party supports Palestinian statehood bid   Douglas Alexander MP, Labour's shadow Foreign Minister has written to William Hague setting out Labour's position on the Palestinian statehood bid ahead of the United Nations General Assembly: "The case made by the Palestinians for recognition as a state is strong. This week, at the United Nations, the British Government should be willing to support the recognition of Palestinian statehood as part of continuing steps to achieve
24
AUG
Middle East and North Africa Programme Publications & Comment Recent commentary and resources on developments in Libya from the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Programme:    Chatham House on Libya What might a post-Gaddafi government look like?  As the rebels come closer to securing Tripoli, Jane Kinninmont considers what form a post-Gaddafi government might take for The Guardian. "At present, the Transitional National Council is united by...
18
AUG
Ecuador: time for it to open its eyes to the world instead of itself     Two thirds of the way through my life (here’s hoping) and I seem to have missed much of Central and Southern America. My grandparents managed India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) whilst my parents lived in Nigeria and Hong Kong having been brought up in Canada and Ceylon. I once asked my grandmother – then in her 80s - where India was but she couldn’t point to it on a map. I guess you can spot the Empire writ large in
13
AUG
I have been out of action with altitude sickness in Quito, Ecuador and only feel better today after two days on oxygen. I will resume my blogs today and tomorrow but in the meantime very well done England at Edgbaston.    
2
AUG
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/01/syria-hama-civil-war Syria teeters on the brink The regime's campaign of brutality in Hama could push Syria towards civil war. But how will the international community react? In Hama, Syrians no longer know where to bury their dead. Following the assault on Syria's fourth largest city<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/31/syria-hama-crackdown-tanks-protests> by tanks and bulldozers at 5am on Sunday morning,...
14
JUL
William Dalrymple gave A CAABU inspired lecture to a packed audience last night at the Arab British Chamber of Commerce in Upper Grosvenor Street. His subject was an examination of the Christian communities in the Arab Spring countries and though he offered no conclusions it was clear a) they are all under huge threat and b) hardly anyone cares in the West.
30
MAY
When President Obama was first here two years ago (March, 2009) I wrote to Speaker Martin and Prime Minister Brown asking if he could address both Houses of Parliament. The Speaker said it wasn't in his remit and I never received a reply from No.10.  Still, the boy didn't too bad last week though the love-fest was a tad embarrassing for one and all.   
14
MAY
I first went to Qatar in 2002 or 2003; I have been back five more times.....It grows at such a pace that it is hard to understand why.......... Qatar has a population of about 300,000 Qataris and 1.3 million migrant workers and/or ex pats depending on their status. The Emir is enlightened for an Arab/Muslim state. Until recently, though it has impressive investments in this country - Canary Wharf, Chelsea Barracks, Harrods et al - it has only became the centre of the world's focus...
13
APR
See: www.dohaforum.qatar-conferences.org I will speaking at the Forum on internet matters as I did back in 2006. This will be my fifth visit to the Doha Forum and my sixth visit in all to Qatar.
23
MAR
Letter in the Independent http://www.caabu.org/news/news/caabu-letter-thethe-independent-libya Libyans must be allowed to remove the tyrant of Tripoli and his progeny from power. It is their right and they want their chance to do what Egyptians and Tunisians did to their detested despots. Let us hope they prevail, but never forget that when the dust settles it must be Libyans alone who determine the fate of their country and not us. Chris Doyle Director, Caabu, Advancing Arab-British...
17
MAR
If ever there was a period of history of complete inactivity it has been these past two weeks. The UNO is a dead duck; the Wets (aka the West) cannot agree a no fly zone in Libya and so a ghastly dictator will kill his own people; for Libya read Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Europe has lost all conviction and is devoid of any kind of leadership. We have dithered over Libya with such obvious embarrassment that even if a no fly zone is agreed today it will hardly worry Gaddafi and his cronies
17
MAR
Mark Malloch Brown spoke at the RSA last night about his new book The Unfinished Global Revolution. It appeared as if I was the only attendee who had read it which was slightly embarrassing given I was his PPS. I asked him whether he could see the IMF, World Bank and UN being moved out of the USA and whether the G20 would be more important than the UNO by 2021 but his answer was inconclusive.
14
MAR
The Tsunami which hit Japan has stunned us all coming so soon after earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand and Chile. The Japanese economy has been static for aeons so it's an ill Tsunami but might one impact of the dreadful tidal waves be a complete re-think amongst Japanese politicians and civil society to re-build its infrastructure from head-to-toe? This would release billions of yen and re-structure her domestic economy. Just a thought.
8
MAR
I've always contended that the Foreign Office has been a disaster abroad - look at the major decisions we made in the 20th century: ** wrong on Saudi Arabia and much else in the Middle East ** misreading the tea-leaves on Hitler ** not understanding post war Europe ** believing in some kind of special relationship with America? Why? ** agreeing to the partition of Greater India ** messing up most of Africa ** blind support of Israel after WW2 ** no policy on Soft Diplomacy and so...
3
MAR
I signed the CAABU inspired one page letter in The Guardian this morning calling on David Cameron to halt the sale of arms to dictators and regimes with appaling human rights records. The Letter is here:  Dear Mr Cameron   Supporting democracy whilst selling arms that can be used by regimes to subvert the wishes and aspirations of the people under their rule is morally untenable. We, the undersigned, welcome the UN’s recent embargo on arms to Libya but call upon the...
27
FEB
What is the Foreign Office for? For over a century it has continually backed the wrong horses overseas - Egypt, Israel, Saudi, India et al. Its senior diplomats live in some kind of 1960s bubble working on this word or this nuance of a sentence for a communique, oblivious of the wider world   None of the WW2 institutions are fit for purpose - UNO, World Bank, WTO and IMF - yet we cling to them as they sink rather than suggesting a complete and thorough reform.   On...
23
FEB
David Cameron doesn't get foreign affairs, few Prime Ministers do, though they love the air miles. You cannot both go to Egypt to empathise with what has gone on there and then host in Kuwait, a great scion of democracy, a UK arms flotilla of salesmen and women selling to dodgy regimes. It doesn't wash and it was his first major misjudgement.
17
FEB
The fragile peace between the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon was severely dented over events in Egypt. The White House speaks for the nation, the State Department is there to ensure America power is global whilst the Pentagon seeks to ensure fairly or unfairly America's global opponents experience timely reminders as to who bosses the world. But Egypt showed that America no longer can boss the world. Whilst it may be a decade or two before China overtakes...
17
FEB
So it's okay then if the self-nominated Royal family of Bahrain shoots its own people: welcome to the 13th Century. The real issue for all the Gulf states is that they are in a minority because the ex-pat population not only out numbers them but props them up - whether they be from Pakistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, India, Egypt or the UK. But here's the rub, few of them have passports, few have any local rights to education for their children or proper housing or access to health. And...
12
FEB
The Next Mubarak: a wiki for the world Just imagine if the combined forces for good in the western media could combine to create a single online source for those living in the Arab states in north Africa. This would enable those policemen and women, politicians seeking redemption, civil servants and those in the know to release all the files they could lay their hands which implicate their despotic rulers. Now wouldn't that be fun.
3
FEB
Patrick French author of another book on India this time entitled India: A Portrait spoke at the RSA at lunch-time today to yet another full-house. I asked him about the sclerotic nature of the public services there. You can catch it at www.thersa.org  I am due in New Delhi and Mumbai next week.
3
FEB
I will back to India for my sixth visit since 2006 (I went to Bombay as it was known then in 1955 and 1958 en route to Hong Kong and England) next week. This time I will be visiting New Delhi and Mumbai.
3
FEB
Live 24 hour television coupled with an always on internet certainly gives everyone a chance to be their own commentator on events in Egypt. The White House, the EU and No.10 no longer know how to call it. Having pussy-footed around for a few days uncertain whether this was another Tunisia or not, they then caught the mood of the well behaved crowds and called for Mubarak to go immediately. And then when he didn't and fighting broke out yesterday they weren't sure what to do caught
30
JAN
I would have been travelling to Cairo tomorrow for a meeting of the Egypt British Business Council but given the state of play there, we have cancelled our meetings. I have been watching events unfold online and on Sky News and Al Jazeera. But the most interesting comment I have come across was in this morning's Observer. Ed Vulliamay has written a piece on Julian Assange and in it he comments: "The American diplomats writing the cables leaked to Assange report many of the reasons for the
27
JAN
After the Editorial Intelligence bash, I had supper with Elizabeth Filippouli of Global Thinkers, and we spent some time wondering whether there was space for a think tank in this area...... More work......
27
JAN
I was due in Cairo next Monday but rioting there may cause a cancellation.
20
JAN
I attended my first formal meeting of the EBBC yesterday held courtesy of the Chairman of Vodafone in his Park Lane offices. We discussed our forthcoming meeting to Cairo and a 2 day conference on business opportunities there for UK SMEs in June.
7
JAN
Egypt British Business Council I have been asked to sit on this Council and my first meeting is next week and then I am visiting Cairo sometime next month.
11
NOV
Royal Society of Arts: www.rsa.org.uk   Last evening Dr Ian Goldin proposed that it might just be Africa's century in a wide ranging speech which you can shortly listen to on the RSA web site. The lecture was chaired by Alex Russell, FT journo and a former South African correspondent and author of After Mandela.  I asked a question, not surprisingly about China's presence in Africa, but about what kind of economic structures would warrant being called an African solution...
26
OCT
HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar and HH Sheikha Mozar attended the House of Lords for a reception with MPs, Peers and former MPs (with an interest in Qatar). Speaker Bercow's notes from the Foreign Office gave new meaning to the word "anodyne" but it was good to catch up with one of our former Ambassadors, Stephen Day and touch base with old friends. Sheikha Mozar easily won the fashion stakes and she normally does.
1
OCT
En route to Cape Town to see my son, Jack I read The Fear, the Last Days of Robert Mugabe by Peter Godwin. I'm a fan of the author having previously read Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa.  Godwin is banned in Zimbabwe (he now lives in NY) but during 2008 he returned at frequent intervals to risk his life to catalogue the appalling atrocities which Mugabe and his evil henchmen had inflicted daily on MDC supporters despite the results of the General Election. Mugabe failed to accept the
29
AUG
It was one of the most unforgiving deals in recent history when the Pope signed a contract with Mussolini which gave him his own papal state so long as he made no derisory comments about Mussolini's henchmen and their appalling activities. Now we are expected as UK citizens to endorse that deal by allowing him a State Visit so that we contribute our own taxes to pay for his security. We would never invite any of the other world religious leaders on a state visit so...
22
AUG
The Quartet (USA, Russia, UNO and EU) rarely plays a symphony but it has again appealed for more noise as it calls for Peace Talks Number 3001 between the fractured Palestinian leadership and the ever so right wing current Israeli leadership. Hillary Clinton has given them a year to settle their differences. www.quartetrep.org www.consilium.europa.eu www.un.org www.meforum.org
13
AUG
I'm a 100% Europe fan. I do not want my children or their children to suffer as my grandfather and father did in two world wars which both had their origins in Europe. NATO has worked very well in keeping Europe at peace though whether it should be in Afghanistan is another matter. It would make sense to bring NATO closer to the EU: maybe even a part of it. I'm a 100% supporter of the idea of the EU but I do not support it as it stands. It is woefully managed and organised. It is...
6
AUG
Presidents and Prime Ministers love the fact that they can travel around the world speaking on our behalf. Their counterparts much prefer to meet one another than the miserly Foreign Secretary or heaven forbid, a deputy PM.......By the way the same goes for our Ambassadors who live for that hand shake with the President or PM of the country they are in. Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron had done little travelling as backbench MPs. They were so engrossed in their shadow cabinet...
30
JUL
The PM has had an eventful two weeks abroad in USA, Turkey and India. His pronouncements have been spot on: ** We are the junior partner in the absurd special relationship with USA ** Turkey does need to become a full member of the EU ** Gaza is a prison camp ** Pakistan must pull its proverbial finger out over terrorism Yet, his own Foreign Office actively briefed against him. Now is the time to cut it down to size.
25
JUL
I was approached by a Tory minister to ask if I would like to go on the PM's visit to India this week but felt it ought to go to a more senior person at Tribal where I am an Associate. Nonetheless, Cameron's difference in approach and style to Blair and Brown's first visits are welcomed. Blair went in 2005 but with a small entourage and some business leaders; Brown went before he was anointed and became embroiled in the Shilpa Shetty fiasco during a C4 Big Brother episode: as though he
19
JUL
For aeons and certainly since the end of WW2 we have said that there was a Special Relationship with America. Blair milked it for all he could but essentially if you ask the White House they will cough into their serviettes and laugh quietly about it. They cannot see it nor understand why we keep banging on about it. Consider: WW1 USA was a late entrant (1917) WW2 ditto (late 1941); but USA still fought on in the Far East to keep Russia out of China and Japan The...
4
JUL
Robin Cook tried to bring some kind of morality back to Foreign Affairs policy in 1997 (doesn't that feel pre-historic). It was a good try but our arms industry is so vast and being Foreign Secretary doesn't give you much say in what the MOD does. William Hague surprised most Tories with a wise and profound speech earlier last week in carving out a new set of principles. He was half right on Europe - what he should have done was to establish a new department outside of the Foreign...
22
JUN
The news that the Chinese currency might float - there appear to be slight nuances in interpretation between the Mandarin version and its English translation of the press release - augurs well if this leads to a re-evaluation of what the Yuan is worth. Most western commentators reckon that the currency has been held down artificially to make Chinese exports even cheaper.  However, given that the Central Bank of China holds $3 trillion in reserve, it is unlikely that the Yuan will move
16
JUN
(Apologies for the delay in posting but I was in such pain from Thursday-Sunday with dreadful arthritis in my knees that I could hardly walk and eventually an ambulance came to take me to hospital early on Sunday morning). There has been more interest in South Africa beyond the World Cup from the various sports teams representing BBC and ITV than I can previously recall. But there has been little or no enthusiasm from the rest of the commissioning editors especially at the Beeb for all...
16
JUN
Guardian: Comment is free  (Please do share and add your comments on the Guardian Website) Off the hook: Israel's own Widgery inquiry into Bloody Monday Israel cannot be trusted to investigate its military over the Gaza flotilla raid. Only an...
11
JUN
Given the oil industry is the major employer outside of Dell, Texas Industries, tourism and the service industries in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, it is no surprise that Obama's team has taken on a rather feebly led BP. There are mid-term elections on 2nd November for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 or 34 up for grabs in the Senate and these will give the President an indication of where he stands for 2012.  BP has not been...
4
JUN
Qatar is one of a number of small Arab kingdoms which border the southern part of the Persian (Iranian) Gulf. Like Bahrain and Kuwait upstream and the Emirates (Trucial States) and Oman downstream, it is one in which the UK had a vested interest but as ever strangled its growth and development for a century or so. Coastal kingdoms depended on the sea for their livelihoods - fishing, trade and pearls - and the desert for their recreation - camel racing...
28
MAY
I spent three days in Madrid this week with the Family Online Safety Institute www.fosi.org at a conference on internet matters sponsored by Telefónica, the owners of 02.   Spain and the UK has become much closer economically during the past decade with BA’s “purchase” of Iberian Airlines, Banco Santander’s buyout of Abbey National, which has just been rebranded in the UK High Street, Aviva the new-ish owners of Norwich Union and a few years back, Ferrovial who bought...
21
MAY
Let's go through the hoops. The Eurozone countries hope Greece is the only bail out and that though the Spanish and Portuguese economies are in a difficult place the measures that have been taken this week should see the euro through to a safe haven. Meanwhile, as David Cameron continues his coronation across Europe - looking decidely ill at ease in Paris with President Sarkozy yesterday even though they are both right wing leaders - he might ponder whither the £ if it needs a bail...
14
MAY
William Hague, struggling to find his voice in Washington, DC today, went on and on about our so-called Special Relationship with the USA. There isn't one. There isn't a special relationship. It 's bogus.   Just look at events since WW2 - and remember they took some time to come into both WW1 and WW2: 1956 Suez - the US Navy shot across one of our ships; President Eisenhower was absolutely livid at the Anglo-French plans to invade Suez 1961 Vietnam - we failed (rightly) to...
7
MAY
It is important as part of Joseph Nye's school of "Soft Diplomacy" to ensure that English remains the number one language of the world (about 90% of everything currently on the net is in English). I shall be asking the new UK Government shortly to make sure that English dominates on every learning platform in the world. Watch this space.
30
APR
Bahrain is the smallest kingdom in the Middle East and unusually is an island just off the north Saudi coast in the Gulf with a population of about 1.2 million. Of these, depending on who you last talked to, about 300,000 are citizens with the remainder being immigrants without too many rights. The difference here when compared to other Gulf states is that the ruling family of Al Khalifa is Sunni whereas the majority of the population is Shia. Rumours suggest that there is a fast-track for
24
APR
On Friday, I went to the funeral of Rifleman Daniel “Danny” Holkham (1990-2010) at All Saints’ Parish Church, Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey. Danny had died a few days before he was due home on leave. Unusually, he was one of three brothers serving his country in Afghanistan. As you can imagine, his death has had a profound impact in our community. I attended out of respect to the family and their close friends who had asked me to be there. It was my last “duty” as such as a soon to be...
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