Daily Archives: January 21, 2010

Jack Straw’s memo to the Iraq inquiry is certainly one of the most thoughtful, detailed and entertaining pieces of evidence yet presented to the inquiry. Any British politician who can “paraphrase” Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (yes that’s his picture) while reflecting on the Iraq war surely deserves a medal. Here’s the passage. A classic.

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Here is the full text of the FCO memo leaked to the Tories:


Our monthly meeting on 18 December was almost entirely devoted to the next step in setting budgets for every Directorate and Post for the next financial year starting on 1 April.

We know that next year will be a lot tougher than this year. This is partly because we just have less money (like all Departments we have to make further efficiency savings next year). But it’s mostly because the value of our budget is continuing to decline as sterling has dropped against other major currencies. Since we spend most of our money abroad in foreign currency, that means the pounds we have to allocate will buy less. Read more

Chris Bryant just told the Commons that there is no attempt to “obfuscate” on the Foreign Office budget crisis. But his insistence that the overall budget is rising in pounds hardly gives a complete picture. All these statements are true:

1) FCO spending on counter-terrorism projects in Pakistan will go up from £8.2m to £9.5m next year. Read more

There was a surprise fall in unemployment by 7,000 to 2.46m announced yesterday by ONS. That means an unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent, compared to 10 per cent in the eurozone and the US.

Admittedly there could be further rises, not least when interest rates rise and the government takes an axe to public sector jobs. Read more

Pity the Foreign Office. About two years ago, Britain’s supposedly canny diplomats were comprehensively outmanoeuvred by the Treasury. In return for a modest increase in capital funding, the Treasury asked the FCO take on the risk of currency fluctuations. The result? As the pound crashed, the FCO lost almost a sixth of its core budget.

The consequences were laid bare by Baroness Kinnock yesterday, who acknowledged that counter-terrorism programmes in Pakistan were being cut on the very day Gordon Brown called it the “crucible of terrorism”. Read more