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2017 December January

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AS WE GO TO PRESS the UK government and media are in turmoil after the US President-elect proposed Nigel Farage as the new British Ambassador in Washington DC. Only time will tell how Donald Trump pans out as President, but one thing is for sure – the face of global politics is changing rapidly. In an excellent contribution from the High Commissioner for Cyprus, he writes about ‘the politics of fear.’ He notes that people’s anxieties are being exploited for political purposes, with the resultant atmosphere of xenophobia, intolerance and nineteenth century nationalism creating yet more fear. He says the remarkable rise of populist politicians “is a tangible proof that feeding on people’s fears actually works.” At a time when traditional diplomacy is being “thrown off its tracks,” the work of the diplomatic community is now more important than ever in addressing society’s unease.

In a year that will have seen eight major national referendums, Michael Binyon questions their logic and effect. Britain, Hungary and Colombia have all recently entrusted a major issue to a referendum, with shocking results. He argues that a referendum is far from democratic, and can be used by populists to destroy democracy. Across the globe, people have been rejecting the establishment and using their votes as a protest.

Following the Brexit referendum results and the election of a controversial new US President, all eyes are on the ‘special relationship’. Former British Ambassador to the United States Lord Renwick gives us an insight into his new book on that very subject. He refers to some amusing anecdotes, such as one Christmas Churchill spent in Roosevelt’s White House. “…As the President wheeled himself into the  Lincoln bedroom, Churchill emerged from his bathroom wearing nothing at all. As Roosevelt retreated, Churchill is supposed to have said: ‘No, no, Mr President, the Prime Minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the President of the United States!’” Lord Renwick also says that the special relationship has shown “a Lazarus like tendency to survive” throughout the ages. Again, only time will tell. We have an important contribution from the Ambassador of the Maldives (formerly the High Commissioner) explaining his country’s decision to go it alone and leave the Commonwealth. He says the friendship between the two countries has been “neglected,” but that this also presents “an exciting opportunity” for both countries.

As always, Diplomat reviews the Credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting the Ambassadors of Ethiopia, Japan and United Arab Emirates, along with the High Commissioner for Canada. In the lifestyle section, Diplomat samples VIP treatment in Rosewood London’s magnificent Manor House Wing, and enjoys Michelin starred food in the capital’s oldest Indian restaurant, Veeraswamy. Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and arts reviews, including the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery, and the Charterhouse in Clerkenwell, open to the public for the first time in its 660-year history.

Finally, I always want to hear from you, our readers, on article suggestions, new appointments, local news and other embassy events that you would like covered. Please contact me on vvk@diplomatmagazine.com

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