Okay, I suppose it’s time for Kim Darroch stories. Nothing remotely earth shattering, just examples I saw of him being a) committed and hard working; b) utterly loyal to UKGov, and; c) a generally nice person.
All, in marked contrast to his vocal detractors in the UK and US.
Note: entirely personal reflections from him being my boss’s, boss’s, boss when I’d just joined UKREP as 2nd sec Development. I didn’t know him well, but had to work closely (and briefly) with him a couple of times.
a) Like all Ambos, he was often in breakfast meetings starting at 7.30 or 8am, and would stay up (working) in the residence as long as any visiting Minister wanted to chat. Often until midnight or beyond. It’s an arduous, all consuming job (despite all the Ferrero Rochers)
I had to do a Conciliation Committee with him once. This is where Council and the EP cannot agree on a compromise legislative text, so MEPs and Ambassadors are basically locked in a room to find agreement.
They start at 9 or 10 in the evening, and go on as long as needed. If there’s still no agreement, the legislation fails. Ambassadors have plenipotentiary powers to make binding agreements on behalf of their Govts in the room.
This one went on until 3am, and Kim was still making crucial interventions well after 2am. After a full day’s work before. So, hard working, rather than sitting around the pub in Place Lux or watching Fox News and tweeting.
b) The Conciliation in general was over a bit of legislation that included a detail that crossed a wider UK policy line. Commission and EP wanted this. UK didn’t. We, and to a large extent Kim, had got other Member States (MSs) on board to support.
There was pressure for a fall-back compromise position rather than holding out entirely, from the Commission and EP, but also from other MS who had supported UK on the principle (and from everyone who wanted to go home). Kim was under real pressure to compromise.
Kim called Ministers’ officies directly on this, and got back instructions to hold out no matter what. So he did, and spent the night constantly in talks with faltering Ambos to drag them along with the UK, and to MEPs to explain the position.
I thought, to be honest, there was a compromise there. I think Kim thought privately that we were using a hell of a lot of capital on a pretty small technical issue. This didn’t matter. The instructions from minister were absolutely sacrosanct.
(UK/Council won, and, as it happens, the apparently small technical issue turned out to be a big one later, so it was important that we had.)
So, absolute loyalty to UKGov, and the same effort put into an apparently small issue that Ministers thought (rightly, it turned out) was important as with a big issue of foreign policy or similar. Personal views made no difference to this.
c) UKREP & the Embassy had a bar (lots of embassies did, and some still do). It was run by us staff volunteering and open one evening a week. I was opening it one night and Kim was having a quiet meeting with a Quite Important Person there.
I went to collect their glasses as they’d finished their drinks, and the QIP said “The same again.” I said OK, but Kim explained nicely that it was bar service, and that it was staffed by volunteers, but said that he’d go to the bar for two of them, which he did.
There’s was no need to do that. I would have brought them their drinks as they were my ambo and a QIP. Kim probably hardly knew who I was, and, frankly, he’s used to people bringing him stuff. It was important to him though.
As I said, nothing earth-shattering. Just doing what a good Ambassador should do. Some might have other less positive experiences, of course. That last one in the bar really struck me though. Anyway, thought this personal view might be interesting to some FWIW.
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