Matthew Parris is a journalist, author, broadcaster and former Conservative politician.
After turning down a job at MI6, his political career began in the Foreign Office, followed by the Conservative Research Department, before he was elected MP for West Derbyshire in 1979. He stepped down to present LWT's political interview programme Weekend World. He was Parliamentary Sketchwriter for The Times for almost a decade and a half, and continues to write columns in both The Times and The Spectator. He won the London Press Club's Edgar Wallace Outstanding Reporter of the Year Award 1990, and a range of awards since, including Columnist of the Year at the British Press Awards 1991 and 1993, Columnist of the Year at the What the Papers Say Awards 1992, Writer of the Year at the What the Papers Say Awards 2004, The George Orwell Prize 2004 and the Chairman's Award in The Comment Awards 2009. He was Press Gazette's Commentator of the Year 2010 and his books include Inca-Kola, Great Parliamentary Scandals, and Scorn.
His autobiography, Chance Witness, won Politico's Book of the Year Award in 2002 and his most recent book (2010) is Parting Shots - Undiplomatic Diplomats: the Ambassadors' letters you were never meant to see.
"Thank you again for your contribution. We had many unsolicited remarks about the very appropriate balance of humour, insight and challenge. It was very much enjoyed and appreciated by all"
When leaving a foreign posting, Britain's ambassadors were encouraged to write a valedictory despatch until the practice was abolished in 2006. Unlike the usual style of the diplomatic bag, these last reports from foreign posts were unbuttoned, indiscreet and often very funny. There was much settling of scores, some poking fun of foreigners, a degree of moaning about the privations of Embassy life - and sometimes a bit of serious analysis too.
Based on a very successful BBC radio series, Matthew Parris, who once worked for the Foreign Office and had the task of distributing the despatches, and Andrew Bryson have compiled an always entertaining and frequently hilarious volume of the best of them.BUY NOW: Parting Shots