By Ray Fleming

THE mood of the Mid Summer Dinner of the Majorca Conservatives Abroad on Friday night was set by an (unattributed) quotation on the menu card -- “We shall have no scandal as we dine, but honest talk and wholesome wine.” It was a perfect summer evening at the Santa Ponca Hotel Golf and the atmosphere of “honest talk” was set by the Chairman Allan Gay Niblett and continued by the distinguished principal speaker Lord Hurt of Westwell whose range of Whitehall experience cannot have been exceeded or even equalled by many ministers. Before the dinner I was grateful to the Chairman for introducing me to Lord Hurt and giving me the opportunity of a brief discussion with him.

A quick tour d'horizon of world affairs led me to say that there seemed to be very little good news to be found in the world just now. Lord Hurd quickly suggested that the Arab Spring was an important exception even though it is still work in progress. The important thing, he said, was “that the countries and people concerned are doing it their own way” and that as a result the end result is likely to be viable and long-lasting. “You can't bomb people into democracy,” he said.