Two For­eign Sec­re­taries: one hero and one cad

The Scotsman - - Scottish Perspective -

Afew years ago, I made a doc­u­men­tary for BBC Ra­dio 4’s Ar­chive Hour about Sir Fitzroy Ma­clean, war hero, ad­ven­turer and Tory MP. We needed po­lit­i­cal con­tem­po­raries to con­trib­ute rec­ol­lec­tions and the ques­tion arose, to put it del­i­cately, if Lord Car­ring­ton was still avail­able. Hav­ing con­firmed that he was, we ar­ranged to meet in the House of Lords. If I an­tic­i­pated a frail nona­ge­nar­ian who might need a bit of prompt­ing, I could not have been more wrong. He pos­i­tively bounded down the stairs, was as sharp as a tack and we had a great con­ver­sa­tion. Car­ring­ton died this week at the age of 99.

As For­eign Sec­re­tary, he tried to ne­go­ti­ate a so­lu­tion to the Falka­nds anom­aly which recog­nised the Ar­gen­tinian in­ter­est. When Ar­gentina in­vaded, he re­signed be­cause, as he later wrote: “The na­tion feels there has been a dis­grace ... The dis­grace must be purged. The per­son to purge it should be the min­is­ter in charge. That was me”.

By any stan­dards, Car­ring­ton was a toff. When I asked if he was the long­est-serv­ing mem­ber of the Lords, he laughed and replied: “By a coun­try mile!” He in­her­ited his ti­tle in 1937 and took his seat af­ter win­ning the Mil­i­tary Cross. Toffs at their best can be re­mark­able peo­ple with a real ethos of pub­lic ser­vice, which it should be pos­si­ble to recog­nise even when you dis­agree with them.

Card­board toffs, on the other hand, tend to be cads, as per­son­i­fied by an­other For­eign Sec­re­tary. I de­fer to John Mcken­drick QC, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of An­guilla, who tweeted a pic­ture of him­self with Boris John­ston and re­called: “Meet­ing the worst For­eign Sec­re­tary we’ve ever had amongst the de­struc­tion of Hur­ri­cane Irma in An­guilla. Dis­in­ter­ested and out of his depth, he cared noth­ing for our sit­u­a­tion. Good rid­dance.” And so say all of us.

Lord Car­ring­ton meets two gi­ants on the world stage, Nel­son Man­dela and Henry Kissinger

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