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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Turkey

2nd July 2015

Video: the perils of conspiracy theories

A harvest fails.  Saboteurs are blamed.  A well-know personality dies tragically.  A secret plot is alleged.  Another well-known personality dies tragically.  Rumours circulate that he has faked his death and has been seen in a supermarket near Basingstoke.

I have written several times in this blog about conspiracy theories.  Now, if you don’t mind hearing someone murdering the Turkish language, you can watch me talking on the same subject.  I made the video last year when I was practicing for my Turkish exam, for which candidates have to make a 5-minute oral presentation.  So it’s a bit out of date.  But I hope most of it makes sense, at least to Turkish speakers.

For English speakers, listen out for my reference to “Sod kanunu” – sod’s law.

What about those earlier blogs?  Careful listeners will detect that the video is based loosely on my blog of June 2014 Reptiles, fairies, conspiracies and cock-ups, which included the conspiracy theory that many world leaders are in fact shape-shifting reptiles.  I said that a strong country like Turkey didn’t need conspiracy theories to explain its destiny.

My January 2015 blog Turkey 2023: why the UK welcomes Turkish success imagined a powerful and successful Turkey in 2023 and explained why the United Kingdom would welcome this.  I said that, “all too often in Turkey, I hear re-cycled 100-year-old conspiracy theories that the UK somehow does not want Turkey to get stronger. Or even, weirdest of all, that somehow by invisible means of which evidence mysteriously can never be found, we have a secret agenda to “weaken” Turkey.”  I pointed out that if this were true, the job to which I have devoted the last three years of my life would be a cruel joke against me.

Finally, my March 2015 blog James Bond, conspiracy theories and the Welsh Secret Service revealed that the Welsh Secret Service could, possibly, exist. I noted that you could try all you wanted to find out about them. But such was their tradecraft that you would never find a single piece of evidence to support their existence.  On the logic of conspiracy theories, that would make them the most successful and powerful intelligence agency on earth.

Conspiracy theories.  Think twice before you believe them.

Follow Leigh Turner on Twitter at @leighturnerFCO

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.