17 Apr 2013

With Denis and Margaret Thatcher in a Corridor of Power.

As assignments go this one in the IRA stronghold of South Armagh was a little different. I was with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and husband Denis while they waited for a taxi to arrive. The taxi was a British army helicopter with orders to whisk them back to Belfast castle, while the waiting room was a makeshift barracks corridor, dark, narrow and uninviting. It was also a spectacular target for the real power in the area. Luckily for all “Mum” had been the word about the flash visit.

It’s a strange thing to make an assessment of one such as Maggie Thatcher. All the rumours, backbiting, back stabbing skulduggery, that mars political life was just not present on the crisp morning she visited the front line troops. It was not an easy place to secure for such a high profile figure. The IRA’s very successful 2nd Battalion dominated the area and the killing tally. They eventually scored over 160 security officers to a loss of four of their own in active combat service. 
Mrs Thatcher would need to be very calm and very cool to for her and Denis to feel OK in the camp.

The Iron Lady. Margaret of Finchley.
To trust or not to Trust that is the question.
Image extracted from the Sunday Times
by artist Michael Leonard. April 2013
And that’s how it was for the 10 minutes we shared in the corridor. I was pleasantly surprised how much she and Denis relaxed with us to make small talk and present her cultured manner. I suppose behind very strong front person is just another human, just like the rest of us.
Just another day.P.M. Margaret Thatcher, Husband Denis
with the troops and Martin Nangle in the IRA's South
Armagh stronghold. The exit corridor in rear view.
Image 1980's  

Hard to take in that here was the leader of “the British occupation in Ireland,”  the Iron Lady herself having a bit of banter with a couple of media people deep in IRA territory while a late helicopter ride made its way over the rolling hills for a pick-up.

Denis joked and was genuinely funny. Mrs Thatcher shuffled through her handbag for a tissue. We Patricks just tried to the Irish thing. Express restrained recognition for celebrity status. I mean she's just a Prime Minister, right!

Light information was exchanged about the things everyone does at home, the office, or the pub, or in this case, a narrow corridor of power locked at both ends. They soon said goodbye, using first names. Just another day in the Irish/UK Ulster conflict. 

14 Apr 2013

EU Crisis: Policy Austerity Gets a Downgrade; London Meets Berlin.

 The Troika’s (EC, ECB and IMF) much critiqued austerity programme is grinding to a halt. Cyprus buckles painfully under the terms of its bailout while peripheral sinners Ireland and Portugal toughen resistance to repayment schedules.

It was all so predictable, where did Federal Brussels think it was taking us. While the sins of the over spenders, (of which there are many) need to be washed and cleansed, it is clear the problem embraces the wider business model. And, not just about the debt hangover from the infamous banking crisis. Belt tightening alone is not enough. Indeed it is mostly counterproductive. Anarchy is making a stylish comeback in the shape of ridicule and contempt for the efforts of Europe’s leaders to shape the new Superstate. (Even though, most citizens are still good Europeans). 
They have the whole Union in their hands. Cameron and Merkel
discuss  the situation facing Europe at the recent Schloss Meseberg
  meeting near Berlin. Image Con. Party 2013  

In typical E.U. bureaucratic fashion none will take responsibility for the Troika’s programme’s failure. The best result austerity can claim is the case of Ireland. This is a false claim and most observers recognise this. The promissory note for the state to save private banks holding Dutch and German debt is too heavy a burden to carry in the short term. Faced with ruinous options the Irish would willingly dump the Troika in the Celtic sea and reprint its own pound. So to keep the ship afloat, the “Austerity Bed” has been softened a bit for now. 

It was summed up recently by financier George Soros, The euro crisis has already transformed the European Union from a voluntary association of equal states into a creditor-debtor relationship from which there is no easy escape.  As a result, the crisis is now threatening to destroy the European Union.”  He went on to claim in a der Spiegel interview that Germany might consider being outside the Euro. The situation is deteriorating and in the longer term it is bound to become unsustainable,” Mr Soros pronounced.

Wow! Is the chancellor contemplating joining the C.N.S.?  A new London - Berlin Alliance? Never!!!

Meanwhile British leader of Confederate Nation States, David Cameron, met German chancellor Angela Merkel to plan a future strategy with the US over economic re-growth. Are they making it up as they go along! Experimentation is fine as long as anarchy stays in the bottle, for stylish anarchy has its dedicated followers. But it is not as such. The march to construct pan European parties and alliances is started. More Europe, Less Europe, No Europe, Just Europe, new parties on the block, there is all to play for.