Salmond v Hammond and the constitutional crisis caused by a diplomatic dinner

This Writer is no fan of Alex Salmond, but that won’t stop me backing him to the hilt over this ill-mannered abuse of Foreign Office procedures.

Salmond is right; the Foreign Office should treat all political delegations from the UK equally.

You see, Salmond is right; it really is the United Kingdom Foreign Office, not the Conservative Party Foreign Office.

He is right that the Permanent Secretary to the FO should be making sure that all UK politicians receive equal respect during visits to other nations.

And Philip Hammond? With behaviour like that, he can just FO.

When Alex Salmond flew to Iran to meet Iranian ministers and MPs just before Christmas, he was expecting to be briefed by the resident UK diplomatic team over dinner at the embassy. It did not turn out that way.

Instead, the foreign secretary Philip Hammond’s office sent a message that the Scottish delegation was not entitled to hospitality. To avoid embarrassment, Scotland’s former first minister hosted the dinner at his hotel in Tehran, paying for not only himself and his delegation but British embassy staff, too.

Salmond, who is the Scottish National party’s foreign affairs spokesman, is torn between whether the incident is comic or a piece of political vindictiveness on the part of Hammond’s office.

There is a potential constitutional issue over whether the Foreign Office sees itself playing host exclusively to Westminster delegations, rather than Scottish ones as well.

Salmond, who is a member of the Scottish and Westminster parliaments, said: “It’s a quite serious matter because it indicates the deep politicisation of the Foreign Office under Hammond and his Tory special advisers. The Foreign Office permanent under-secretary should be putting his foot down to make it clear it is the British Foreign Office, not the Tory Foreign Office.

Source: Alex Salmond pays for supper in Tehran – and triggers constitutional crisis | Politics | The Guardian

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8 thoughts on “Salmond v Hammond and the constitutional crisis caused by a diplomatic dinner

  1. David

    Despite their slender majority, the tories tell us all that they are the masters now and they can invite or dis-invite whoever they want to. Arrogance and impudence runs through this lot, especially Hammond, like Blackpool through a stick of rock.

  2. Brian Webb

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, yes that UK FCO handle all international affairs, its not a devolved issue and if Salmond and the SNP want to make pointless overseas trips when the UK (yes again the UK) government do what we’ve been doing for decades and doing very well.

    You use the term ‘Westminster’ like the Scottish Nationalists, as if derogatory when in fact it means UK parliament. There was a referndum in case you missed it and Scotland decided to stay as part of the UK and as such the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office handles internationals affairs of state.

    These petty games by SNP such as the current ultra pointless Paul Monaghan trip to Jordan, where he is relegated to minor officials and no deals can be done without UK government approval. They will always end in SNP failure because they are clueless in international affairs as well as domestic.

  3. Bookworm

    It’s boorish and extremely unprofessional. It says a great deal re Tories bad manners and sense of entitlement too.

  4. Joan Edington

    I don’t know what to think of this one since I know Salmond loves to wave red rags at Westminster whenever he can.

    I don’t know whether he was invited in his role of SNP foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster or if the invitation was extended to the Scottish Government and Salmond was selected by them. At least after May I hope there won’t be any such confusion.

    If the former was true, have MPs of other minor opposition parties been hosted in the past, in similar circumstances? If so, Salmond is quite right to complain. If not, possibly not.

    If the latter, it is even more complicated. You would think the Scottish Government should cough up but foreign affairs is not devolved.

  5. Jane Owens

    The arrogance and inflated ego of Phillip Hammond is breathtaking. I too am no fan of Alex Salmond, but in this instance he is bang on target.

  6. ian725

    Salmond is correct it is the ‘ UK ‘ Foreign Office. Sounds very much like Tory vindictiveness to me. However Salmond is clever and I do not give much for Hammonds chances in a verbal battle over this.

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