UPDATED: August 29, 2011
Is/was there more than one “David Roberts” UK Diplomat? Apparently so!
We removed a link in our story to a certain David Roberts, previously with the UK Foreign Office, as we received the following email: “Please recheck the identity of David Roberts. This is absolutely NOT the David Roberts who was the British High Commissioner to Barbados in the 1970s, who was balding and in his 50s or 60s.”
The book reviews and excerpts don’t provide a year for the David Roberts quotes below, but one of our readers (Thank you Elizabeth!) searched the old lists and came up with:
Sir David A. Roberts, K.B.E., C.M.G.: Barbados High Commissioner 1971-1973
This could be our man!
Here’s our original story…
David Roberts, at the time with the UK Foreign Office, said…
University of the West Indies…
Teachers “could not hold down a reputable job elsewhere.”
Alumni: “half-naked intelligentsia”
Well, if David Roberts really thought all that about us, he should have said so while he was here. Oh… he did, just not to our face – but authors Matthew Parris and Andrew Bryson recently obtained Roberts’ and other diplomatic reports under Freedom of Information and published them in a book called Parting Shots.
There’s no indication of when Mr. Roberts filed his report with the UK Foreign Office, except that it had to have been before 2006 because that’s when the valedictory exit reports ended – according to one book review. Mr. Roberts’ current venue is unknown but you can read a bit of what he thinks of us right here…
The High Commissioner to Barbados, David Roberts, sketched a situation by no means unique. “It is now the exception rather than the rule for a young and outstanding Barbadian to be educated at Oxford or Cambridge. Thus, through death, retirement or more lucrative employment, the generation of men who read greats, economics or law in the U.K., acquired an affinity with our way of thinking and an acceptance of our social values, and came home to govern Barbados, will pass away.
They will leave government in the hands of young men educated at the University of the West Indies, from which a half-naked intelligentsia is already coming forward. The new generation have largely been instructed by university teachers who could not hold down a reputable job elsewhere. A small country which badly needs carpenters, plumbers, engineers and so forth is turning out third-rate lawyers and sociologists by the dozen. It is good inflammable material for a political bonfire.”
… from the Frontline Magazine book review Diplomacy and Candour by A.G. Noorani
Okay, Mr. Roberts does have a point about turning out too many lousy lawyers and not enough skilled trades workers – but he sounds way too full of himself. His colonial nose is stuck so high in the air he wears loafers so he doesn’t have to look down to tie his shoes. Hmmm… I wonder if our wonderous reporters at The Nation will read Roberts’ entire report in the book and then ask Paul Brummell, the current High Commissioner, for comments?
And pigs will fly!