Sir Brian Barder was British ambassador to Ethiopia, Poland and Bénin, and High Commissioner to Nigeria and Australia. He served previously at, amongst other places, the UK Mission to the UN and in Moscow. Brian retired in 1994 at the age of 60. Earlier he was a civil servant in the Colonial Office in London. He was educated at Sherborne and Cambridge. National Service: tanks, Hong Kong. Former member: Special Immigration Appeals Commission, Management Board Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability, ESU Committee for Speech and Debate. Occasional articles in newspapers, periodicals; interviews on radio and television; numerous letters to the press. Brian cycles, works out and listens to classical music. He blogs mainly about politics, civil rights and international affairs.
Why do you blog? > I blog mainly when I think a significant aspect of current affairs or some great injustice is being ignored, and relish the discipline of exposing what I write, and responding, to challenge and dissent in comments, both on my own blog and on LabourList.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Be far more succinct than I ever manage to be. Don't repeat comments that others in the mainstream media or the blogosphere are already making. Eliminate clichés. Don't insult or belittle other named people, however idiotic or tiresome. Always respond courteously to comments, especially hostile and abusive ones.
Who are your cultural heroes? > J.S. Bach, Miles Davis, Cézanne.
What is your favourite movie? > Jules et Jim.
What is your favourite song? > 'Im Abendrot' (Richard Strauss, Four Last Songs, No. 4).
Who is your favourite composer? > Shostakovich.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > For about a year I was a fervent Christian until I became an equally fervent atheist at about the age of 15 (and remained so).
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Religion.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > George Bernard Shaw's The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism (1927). It is the clearest and most cogent statement of the case for socialism ever written.
Who are your political heroes? > Bevan, Lloyd George, Attlee, Iain Macleod.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Completion of devolution by establishing a fully-fledged federation of the four UK nations, each with its own parliament and government and full control of its internal affairs, the Westminster parliament and government becoming the federal organs whose principal responsibilities will be for foreign affairs and defence.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Shami Chakrabarti. (If the dead are eligible, Clement Attlee.)
What would you do with the UN? > Establish a standing UN peacekeeping force as envisaged in the Charter. Resist any amendments to the Charter.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Religion.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Yet to come, if it survives at all.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Be kind.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > No. It would end in GBH (to me, probably) or worse.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Courage.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Pomposity.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > To protect those I love, including myself.
What is your favourite proverb? > Just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Playing, watching and discussing football.
What would you call your autobiography? > Reluctant Diplomat.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Sydney (Australia).
What would your ideal holiday be? > Revisiting all the Australian states, the ACT and the Northern Territory.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Political journalist.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > To predecease my wife (a selfish wish of which I am ashamed); but not yet.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Vastly increase my American granddaughters' university options; go on three luxury cruises a year with my wife to warm destinations; make grandiose gestures of largesse to my three grown-up children; self-publish my memoirs (not yet written); drink a great deal of champagne.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Neil Kinnock, Alan Sillitoe, Nye Bevan.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]