Rosett Remembers Mark Malloch Brown

In her blog, The Rosett Report, investigative journalist Claudia Rosett of Oil-For-Food fame, wrote a post on 8 November, “Speaking of Public Servants Living the Good Life — Remember Mark Malloch Brown?

UN Photo of Mark Malloch Brown

Rosett’s post continues: “Of course you do. Kofi Annan’s former deputy, former chief of staff, former head of the UN Development Program; now Lord Malloch Brown. He was the British UN bureaucrat who, while doing what he described as ‘God’s work’ at the UN, lived as a tenant on the Katonah, NY estate of tycoon George Soros, paying UN-subsidized rent of about $10,000 per month. When Kofi Annan left the UN at the end of 2006, so did Malloch Brown — in swift succession receiving a British Knighthood, enjoying a brief affiliation with Yale University, and going to work for George Soros’s ventures. Then, this past summer, in the U.K., Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, and in a search for foreign policy expertise dipped into Kofi Annan’s old handpicked pool of UN talent, and dredged up Malloch Brown… who not only got himself a Lordship, but a ‘grace and favour’ taxpayer-funded apartment in London, valued by the U.K. Treasury as worth more than the digs above 10 Downing Street. Read all about it in this week’s cover story of The Spectator, in which the Spectator’s James Forsyth and I take a look at ‘Labour’s Lord of the Perks’. ” Rosett’s blog posting on MMB — as he was known by some in the UN — is here.

What Rosett and Forsyth wrote in their story published on 7 November in the Spectator was that “Gordon Brown, shortly to become Prime Minister, was desperate to bring Malloch Brown on board. One friend who was advising him while Brown and Malloch Brown were negotiating over the telephone remembers egging him on: ‘It was great fun! You know, strike a hard bargain’. It ended up with Malloch Brown nailing down a quite remarkable deal from the supplicant Prime Minister-in-waiting…

Rosett and Forsyth’s story in the Spectator continued: “This newcomer to British government picked up an extensive portfolio incorporating Africa — one of Brown’s foreign policy priorities — Asia and the United Nations, a peerage and the right to attend Cabinet … Why was Gordon so keen to bring him in? In the months leading up to the takeover on 27 June, senior Brownites expressed concern at their boss’s comparative inexperience in foreign policy. Despite a decade at the centre of power, Brown’s experience on the global stage was limited to his work with the International Monetary Fund, the development agenda and his famously grumpy appearances at meetings of EU finance ministers. Brown’s emphasis on the economic aspects of international security and peace-making in the Middle East served only to highlight the narrowness of his focus. Blairites sneered that ‘Gordon doesn’t do abroad’. There were obvious attractions, therefore, in hiring a foreign policy heavyweight [!] to act as his guide and guru, but it was depressingly difficult to find anyone to fulfil this role. Margaret Beckett had proved a mediocre foreign secretary; and restoring Jack Straw to the Foreign Office would have been too clear a slap to Tony Blair and George W. Bush and boxed Brown in on Iran. So Brown looked outside Westminster. The answer Brown’s team came up with — with help from some unofficial headhunters — was Malloch Brown; a Brit in his early fifties who was married with four children and had been educated at Marlborough, Cambridge and Michigan, been a journalist on the Economist and a political consultant before entering the world of international bureaucracy, rising to become Kofi Annan’s deputy secretary general at the United Nations in April 2006. There could only be a dozen or so people in the world who were as thoroughly well-versed in the global agenda as Malloch Brown. To add to his appeal to the Brownites, he also represented a clear break with the Blairite past on foreign policy. At the UN he had been a stern critic of the Iraq war and publicly slapped down the Bush and Blair partnership over the crisis in the Lebanon and for their ‘megaphone diplomacy’ on Darfur. The Spectator profile of Marc Malloch-Brown, Gordon Brown’s new “minister for Africa, Asia and the UN”, is here.

Sorry, but this is a bit of a stretch for me — it is hard to imagine Marc Malloch-Brown, charming though he can be when he wants — as a “foreign policy heavyweight”.

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