A reckless womaniser who destroys everything in his wake and shows an absolute disregard for really really nice cars. James Bond is the man that at some point in our young (or not so young) lives we’ve all want to be. But apparently, the real-life MI6 wouldn’t dream of hiring James Bond if he was, you know, real.
In a recent letter to The Economist, the head of MI6, Sir Alex Younger, responded to an article suggesting that British intelligence officers were the “mavericks” of government, saying that he had learned to live with the public perception that all British spies behave just like Bond.
“Indeed, I have determined to take advantage of it. They say that life follows art. I do not think that this is the case exactly. But I accept that there is a strong feedback loop,” he said.
“In which case, I should make it clear that, despite bridling at the implication of a moral equivalence between us and our opponents that runs through novels, I’ll take the quiet courage and integrity of George Smiley (John Le Carre’s creation from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) over the brash antics of 007, any day.”
Younger also took offence with The Economist for suggesting that MI6 agents get away with reckless acts (like crashing cars into buildings, flying a helicopter 60 feet about a packed city centre and the such) because they are part of the British establishment. Oh pish, pish!
“We do things in defence of national security that would not be justified in pursuit of private interest. But only when they are judged by ministers to be necessary and proportionate,” Younger wrote.
“We break the rules, certainly; we do not break the law. And if we are not maverick, we are not all establishment or male either; ask my deputy. What I will allow, is that alongside our values of courage, respect and integrity, we place a premium on creativity.”
Sorry Sir Alex, we just don’t believe it.