Ian McDonald (civil servant)
|Chief Public Relations Officer (MoD)|
|Prime Minister||Margaret Thatcher|
|Succeeded by||Neville Taylor|
|Born||29 March 1936|
Langside, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
|Died||28 March 2019(aged 82)|
Life and career
McDonald was born on 29 March 1936, in Langside, Glasgow. With his brother, he attended Glasgow High School. He went on to study law at University of Glasgow and began postgraduate studies in Greek and Italian at the same university. Soon thereafter McDonald was conscripted into the army as a translator in Cyprus, however he had studied ancient Greek rather than the modern Greek which was required for his assignment. McDonald was discharged from the army and joined a law firm in Glasgow. He later moved to Karachi, Pakistan, to work as a teacher for a year.
Upon his return to the UK, McDonald was appointed to a junior position in the Ministry of Defence. He was promoted through the ranks until spring 1982, during Falklands War, when he came into prominence as the spokesman for the ministry. Speaking in a monotone voice that British viewers found authentic and reassuring, McDonald gave regular briefings on the events of the war using a teacher's pointer and maps of the islands.
As the British forces recaptured the islands, "McDonald became renowned for his restrained, and at times emotionless, style of delivery." However, he frustrated reporters with his mysterious answers to questions, often quoting William Shakespeare in lieu of a response. In one instance he said "Hamlet, Act One, Scene Two, Line 215" which reads "But answer made it none". On Channel 4's documentary When Britain Went To War (2002), McDonald revealed that he became the subject of amorous attention from TV viewers, including a woman who stalked him for two years and sent him emotive letters.
In 1986, McDonald was made head of the Defence Exports Services Secretariat. He was in charge of the department during the Arms-to-Iraq affair and his name was included in the 1996 Scott Report, in which Richard Scott criticised McDonald for his "inattention … consistent with his general approach to line management".
- Philo, Greg (2014), "The Falklands War", The Glasgow Media Group Reader, Routledge, vol. II: Industry, Economy, War and Politics, p. 83, ISBN 978-1-136-16700-3
- "Ian McDonald obituary". The Times. 9 April 2019. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "Ian McDonald, lugubrious MoD press spokesman during the Falklands war who became an unlikely television star and pin-up – obituary". The Telegraph. 9 April 2019. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- Harrison, Jody (9 April 2019). "Ian McDonald: The 'dull' voice of the Falklands War dies at 82". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "'Voice Of Falklands War' Ian McDonald Remembered". Forces Network. 10 April 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- Blackhurst, Chris (1 March 1996). "Whitehall fears Scott 'witch hunt'". The Independent. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
- Sheridan, Michael (16 February 1996). "Foreign Office excellence threatened by criticism". The Independent. Retrieved 12 April 2019.