Malcolm is a pen-name, a persona (which doesn’t come as any great surprise to Doctor Adrian Tuck — another alumnus of Wells County Primary School, circa 1954 — the first to recognise the face behind the mask). That means Malcolm and his alter-ego exist on two planes — including two points of contact for The Economist‘s e-mails.
So, why do the same messages arrive an hour or two apart in the two mail boxes? Is there some magic blockage in the cyber-aether?
Passing quickly on …
Links between Ireland and Britain are extremely strong. Three recent British prime ministers—Jim Callaghan, John Major and Tony Blair—claim Irish ancestry. An estimated 6m people in Britain—almost one-and-a-half times Ireland’s population—have an Irish parent or grandparent. Ireland is Britain’s fifth largest export market, accounting for more than Brazil, Russia, India and China combined—and Britain is the largest market for Irish goods.
Last December, to some surprise, Britain issued Ireland a £3.2 billion ($5 billion) bilateral loan, following the Irish bail-out by the European Union and the IMF. The move reflected Ireland’s importance to Britain, not only as a trading partner but also as a place where British banks were heavily exposed to a collapsed property market. For many Irish people, Britain’s willingness to help a neighbour in difficulty contrasted favourably with the aggressive stance adopted by some of Ireland’s euro-zone partners, notably France and Germany, in pressing Ireland to accept a bail-out (which is, for many Irish people, actually a rescue of bondholders in Irish banks, many of them French and German) and to raise its low corporate-tax rate.
The British loan was just one of many acts that has helped, slowly, to transform relations between Ireland and Britain after centuries of mistrust. The queen’s visit shows how successful that transformation has been.
Read that again, and see if there isn’t the smallest, slightest discrepancy between the first and the last sentences: “Links” are extremely strong, for good geographical, historical, political, pragmatic and familial reasons (the kind of thing the Economist is so usually clear-headed about) … but somehow, mystically, a sprinkling of the royal fairy-dust has strengthened those “links” yet more.
Well, Malcolm isn’t.