Leadership: Lessons from a Life in Diplomacy by Simon McDonald - review by Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh

The View from the Ivory Towers

Leadership: Lessons from a Life in Diplomacy


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Simon McDonald is a former Foreign Office mandarin who nowadays heads a Cambridge college. He was ambassador to Israel and Germany, with a stint advising Gordon Brown on foreign policy in between. In 2015 he became permanent secretary at the Foreign Office and head of the diplomatic service. But it is not as a bureaucratic big cheese that he will be remembered.

McDonald’s likely footnote in the history books will come from his confirmation, after resigning in autumn 2020, that Dominic Raab was an office bully, and his revelation in July 2022 that Boris Johnson knew that his deputy chief whip Chris Pincher had form as a serial groper of young men

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