Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Barbarians in the Ruins of Rome

The online edition of the Times (London) today has an account of an interview with the new UK Foreign Secretary, the Right Hon. Margaret Beckett, described as a former “left-wing firebrand” and one of a “handful of ministers” who have served in all Labour Party cabinets since the 1970’s.

According to Mrs. Beckett, when Prime Minister Tony Blair told her last 5 May that she was to be the new Foreign Secretary, replacing Jack Straw (now the Labour party leader in the House of Commons) – her reaction was “four-lettered,” and “unprintable in your newspaper.” The article elaborates that her response to the Prime Minister, when he gave her the Foreign Office was: “F ***.” I guess that's the new era of "Cool Britannia" talking.

Mrs. Beckett no doubt deserves the sobriquet bestowed on her by the Times correspondent as “the great survivor of Labour politics,” and she certainly appears to have ample ministerial experience. Yet I cannot help mourn what has happened to the United Kingdom when the person entrusted with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; seated in a chair occupied through the years by so much greatness: Charles James Fox, Lord Grenville, Lord Canning, the Marquess of Wellesley, Viscount Castlereagh, the Duke of Wellington, Viscount Palmerston, Lord Curzon, and Sir Anthony Eden, among others – tells the reporter of the newspaper of record in Great Britain that her reaction to her appointment is to say “Fuck.”
Mrs. Beckett's reaction was a very human one, and no doubt identical to the private thoughts of many of her predecessors. However, what world do we live in, when the British Foreign Secretary feels no shame uttering such a vulgarity, for publication, in one of the great newspapers of the world ? Into her hands is confided the foreign relations of a great kingdom. . . Has she no respect for the dignity of her office ?
So this is it, eh ? The evolution of western civilization: from caves to fire to tool making, to agriculture; through writing, printing, the opera, the arts – all the way to “Fuck” in the newspaper from the British Foreign Secretary. It makes the heart weep.

1 comment:

Candidly Caroline said...

Hmmm ... That just makes me go, "What?"

Most of us say things like that occasionally, but to say so in such a situation as this is unrefined and quite surprising.