AS a five-year-old toddler I first saw staff from the British Consulate at work. I think the Vice Consul in Majorca at that time was the first Majorcan I ever spoke to. My parents had a problem and called out Consulate staff at midnight just when we had first arrived on the island.
The matter was quickly resolved and ever since those early days I've had great admiration for the hard and dedicated work of the British Consulate. I was therefore rather dismayed this week at the announcement that Majorca would no longer have a serving career diplomat as Consul. The only real difference is that the new British Consul, when present Consul Mike Banham leaves these shores next December, will probably be a retired diplomat rather than one who is still serving. In other-words the only difference is that we will go from having a Consul who is serving Member of the Diplomatic Service to one who is retired. The cost saving measures are clear to see. In some ways it could be beneficial. The present Consul in Tenerife is a former ambassador and as far as the general public is concerned there will be no real change at all. But perhaps it is the thought that our Consulate is being downgraded to pay for new Embassies across the globe. As I don't live in any of the new Republics or recently formed countries I don't really care if they have a British Embassy or not. Perhaps, I am being rather silly. We've had a serving diplomat as Consul for as long as I can remember; it was obviously needed as a result of all the millions of British tourists who come here every year. There is a possibility that it will be change for the better.
However, I do believe that if the new system doesn't work, (and I can't see any real reason why it won't) then the Foreign Office should have the necessary courage to admit they were wrong and install a full-time career diplomat once again.