A Conversation with Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his Memoirs, ‘Power and Pragmatism’

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As a minister for eighteen years, Sir Malcolm has seen longer uninterrupted service than anyone since Lord Palmerston in the early nineteenth century. In both the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, during some of the most turbulent years of the late twentieth century, he had a ringside seat at Margaret Thatcher’s historic summit with President Gorbachev, was in charge of British troops during the Bosnian conflict, helped change Polish history during the Cold War and held secret negotiations on the Falklands with the Argentinians. For his robustness against the Kremlin’s aggression in Ukraine, he is currently banned from Russia by President Putin.

In this wide ranging discussion, Sir Malcolm will give a lively account of his years in government and opposition, including his battles with Margaret Thatcher over Scotland to his five pivotal years as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Speaker Biography

The Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG QC was elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for Pentlands in 1974 and represented that constituency until 1997. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Kensington in May 2010 and remained in Parliament until 2015. Sir Malcolm became a member of the Cabinet in 1986 as Secretary of State for Scotland. In 1990 he became Secretary of State for Transport and in 1992 Secretary of State for Defence. From 1995 to 1997 he was Foreign Secretary. He served as the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Welfare Reform until December 2005 when he chose to return to the backbenches. He served as UK representative on the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group 2010 to 2011 and as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, which provides oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies (MI6, MI5 and GCHQ) from 2010-15. He is currently a member of the OSCE’s Eminent Persons Group, which reported on relations between Russia and the West. Sir Malcolm is a Senior Associate Fellow of RUSI and Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies, King's College London.

Professor Malcolm Chalmers became Deputy Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 30 November 2015. He is RUSI’s acting Research Director, and the Director of its Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme. His research focuses on UK defence, foreign and security policy. Malcolm was a member of the consultative panel for both the 2010 and 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Reviews (SDSR), and was a special adviser to Parliament's Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (2011-2015). He is Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter, and was Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies, Kings College, London. He was previously Professorial Fellow (2007-2011) and Director of Research / Director, UK Defence Policy (2011-2015) at RUSI. Before joining RUSI, he was a Senior Special Adviser in the FCO to Foreign Secretaries Jack Straw MP and Margaret Beckett MP. His previous appointments included: Professor of International Politics, University of Bradford; Senior Consulting Fellow, International Institute for Strategic Studies; Visiting Fellow, Center for International Security and Arms Control, Stanford University; Economist, Ministry of Finance, Government of Botswana.

Sir Malcolm will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book, 'Power and Pragmatism: The Memoirs of Malcolm Rifkind' (Biteback Publishing: July 2016), which will be on sale.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

Refreshments will be served from 1730.

To attend this event, please register online using the "Book your place" button above. If you have any queries please contact Andrea Long, Event Manager, at andreal@rusi.org or call +44 (0)20 7747 2600.

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