I spent many of my formative years at a Public School that was not public at all. The holidays were spent with my parents in some god-foarsaken outpost of a shrinking (shrunken) empire. This gave me the opportunity to meet many "spies" from many countries. My favorite was an East German in Cyprus who loved the good life and dreaded the end of his posting.
My everlasting impression of the MI6 spooks I met, without exception the guys in the Embassy, was one of tired, slightly sweaty incompetence. Unless you are a fan of Graham Greene books or other seedy views of Brits in hot foreign countries managing the natives whilst trying to pretend that they are still in Surrey its not an easy picture to conjure up.
My immediate take on the current spy saga in Moscow is one of an over-eager, under-competent MI6 undertaking its legitimate spying job in Russia and getting caught - which happens from time-to-time. Whether NGO funding was part of MI6's remit or the job that one of the "diplomats" was doing as his cover is unclear. I can just imagine the row that is now going on between the Foreign Office/Ambassador and MI6 as a bunch of worthy NGO's (The Committee Against Torture springs to mind) are under the cosh as foreign agents.
The non-row between Britain and Russia will be forgotten quickly. The NGO's will never recover.
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