- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2009

BRITISH GOSSIP

Speculation in the British press has Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointing Attorney General Patricia Scotland, the first black woman to hold the post, as Britain’s next ambassador in Washington.

However, at least one former ambassador to the United States thinks that would be a mistake because the Obama administration would see it as a blatant attempt to win favor by appointing a black ambassador.

“I think Gordon Brown’s going to make a political appointment,” Christopher Meyer, ambassador in Washington from 1997 to 2003, told the London Telegraph’s gossip column, “Mandrake,” over the weekend. “I have heard it will be Baroness Scotland.”

Mrs. Scotland was born in Dominica and moved to Britain with her family at the age of three. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair nominated her for the title of baroness of Asthal, named after her village in Oxfordshire, and Mr. Brown appointed her as attorney general.

Mr. Meyer thinks that naming Mrs. Scotland as ambassador to the United States would send the wrong signal.

“From what I know of [President] Obama, it would go against everything he stands for if someone were appointed because of their race,” Mr. Meyer said.

The current British envoy, Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald, has impressed Washington political and social circles since he and his wife, Julia, arrived here in October 2007.

A career diplomat, Mr. Sheinwald served as foreign- and defense-policy adviser to Mr. Blair and as Britain’s ambassador to the European Union. He is also credited with negotiating the release of 15 British sailors captured by Iran in March 2007.

However, he faced criticism in London over a memo he wrote to Mr. Brown last year about Mr. Obama when he was still a presidential candidate. The memo, which was leaked to the press, assessed Mr. Obama’s liberal Senate voting record.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

Viktor Suvorov, a former Soviet army officer who defected to Britain in 1978, who briefs the Hudson Institute on his research into Stalin’s “grand design to start World War II.”

Daly Belgasmi, a Tunisian national and the World Food Program’s regional director for the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. He addresses the Middle East Institute on the global food crisis.

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