Diary: Time's up for our man in New York

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The Independent Online
OUR MAN at the United Nations has always been one of the more coveted diplomatic posts, so speculation surrounding the future of the British permanent representative, Sir David Hannay, 59, is not surprising. The Diary can reveal that Sir David's successor has now been chosen: our new man in New York will be Sir John Weston, 55, presently Britain's ambassador to Nato, in Brussels.

Sir David's retirement after a four-year appointment is not unexpected, since the post, formerly held for only three years by Sir Crispin Tickell, is viewed among the diplomatic corps as a rotating reward for distinguished policy- makers. However, there were rumours circulating last year that an uneasy rivalry had built up between Sir David - known to some, on account of certain characteristics, as 'The Schoolmaster' - and his new American counterpart at the UN, Madeleine Albright. However, I am assured by insiders that this did not in any way contribute to Sir David's replacement.

Although the timing of the changeover is unknown (Sir John's appointment has yet to be announced by the Foreign Office), I gather the Weston household is extremely excited by the prospect of a move to New York. Meanwhile, Sir John could have done worse than take notes from Sir David's speech in Bonn yesterday. 'It's been a rollercoaster ride,' he said apropos the UN's role generally, 'and some passengers are beginning to feel a bit queasy.'

ON THE market for pounds 380,000, the house in Kent where Graham Sutherland painted that portrait of Winston Churchill - the one which Britain's saviour found so 'interesting' (he could find no other word for the unflattering likeness as it was unveiled before the assembled MPs and peers in Westminster Hall) that his wife promptly went and burnt it.

BACK IN THE EAST END

London's most politically volatile borough, Tower Hamlets, has found a new name for itself: the East End. After May's local elections, 'Tower Hamlets' will, unofficially anyway, cease to exist. Conscious of its cockney roots, the council plans to strike all mention of Tower Hamlets - created by Whitehall bureaucrats when three districts were amalgamated in 1965 - from its road signs, letterhead, schools and hospitals. 'Local people just don't identify with the word. 'I'm a Tower Hamleter' doesn't exactly roll off your tongue,' said a man from Town Hall.

Apparently, locals, both white and ethnic, plumped for an East End identity in a recent Mori poll and Town Hall, quick to please, is already telling telephonists to chirp 'East End, how can I help you?' into the receiver. The 'Welcome to Tower Hamlets' sign is also history, I'm told. It's been replaced by 'Welcome to the East End'.

Although such small changes are already creeping in, tourists will have to hang on until June or July for the complete image revamp, when the designers Coley Porter Bell will unveil a new East End logo. Their work is a closely guarded secret, but I'm told the insignia will reflect a cockney theme. Perhaps a pearly king and queen?

WHO IS the anonymous contributor to the Royal Opera House staff magazine, UpROHr, who wants to set up a local branch of The Archers fan club? Hot money on that longtime Ambridge aficionado Jeremy Isaacs.

EURO-OPTIMIST

Pity Tony Brown, the Tories' prospective candidate for the European Parliament seat of Staffordshire West and Congleton. His toughest battle could well be against his own party, since the seven constituencies in his area include Congleton, home of Ann Winterton, and Stafford, seat of Bill Cash.

Is he worried by the presence of not one but two loquacious Euro- sceptics on his patch? 'Not at all,' says his agent, 'he very much hopes they will vote for him.'

A DAY LIKE THIS

12 April 1853 Karl Marx, European correspondent of the New York Tribune, writes in his dispatch: 'These vital interests should render Great Britain the earnest and unyielding opponent of Russian projects of annexation and aggrandisement. Having come thus far on the way to universal empire is it probable that this gigantic, swollen power will pause in its career? With the Albanian coast she is in the very centre of the Adriatic. It would appear that the natural frontier of Russia runs from Danzig to Trieste. And as sure as conquest follows conquest and annexation follows annexation, so surely would the conquest of Turkey by Russia be only the prelude to the annexation of Hungary, Prussia, Galicia and the ultimate realization of the Slavonic Empire. The arrest of the Russian scheme of annexation is a matter of the highest moment. In this instance the interests of democracy and England go hand in hand.'

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