I like the idea of a Thatcher in jail
Prosecutor: "Your mother is Margaret Thatcher?"
Mark Thatcher: "Yes."
Prosecutor: "I rest my case."
Judge: "Indeed, as there is no such thing as society, just individuals within families, I can only conclude that I blame the parents."
As I luxuriated in the potential downfall and definite discomfort of her oik offspring, I pondered, "How could this tale possibly get any better?"
Enter Jeffrey Archer and his cellphone.
Allegedly, Jeffrey's mobile phone has been in contact with the plotters of the alleged coup. The question is: who was on the cellphone and what was said? This I do not know the answer to. Because, after all, the famous author and one-time Tory peer and mayoral candidate might not have been on the phone at the time. He might have been doing something else - such as having dinner with an old friend who could vouch for him.
The alleged coup's aim was basically to remove a government, replace it with a puppet government and then grab loads of money from the country's oil resources . . . Hmm, that sounds a remarkably familiar storyline. Anyone else recognise the blueprint?
So it turns out that Jeffrey Archer is implicated in a plot which appears to have been plagiarised. Who would have thought it?
How could this tale possibly get any better? Well, being an atheist, I have little time for religion, but I did offer up one prayer, just on the off-chance that I am completely wrong: "O Lord, You have spoiled us already, what with Mark and Jeffrey, but could you see your way to somehow dragging the Hamiltons into this fiasco, too? Amen."
Just to give us a full set.
The plotters made a number of mistakes, including the fatal error of having a bunch of white mercenaries, led by an old Etonian, stop over in Zimbabwe to pick up the guns - an act so stunningly tactless and devoid of basic political nous that you could be forgiven for believing the idea was first mooted in the pages of the Spectator. The affair reeks of upper-class boys' games, and those involved, as well as being mercenaries, probably also cheated in their art exams.
If only the plotters had thought it through a little more carefully, they could have accused Equatorial Guinea of possessing weapons of mass destruction. A long shot, I know, but frankly there is a more credible chance of finding them there than there is in Iraq.
"But," you may cry, "how can you possibly compare the two events - the invasion of Iraq and the coup? You can't just charge into countries without legal justification and international support." Like, say... a UN resolution?
Even Kofi Annan has said that the invasion of Iraq needed a second resolution and that, without this, it was illegal. All right, he said it in typical UN fashion (ie, too late to have any effect), but his statements were made only 18 months after the invasion, and in UN years this is practically a prophecy. Surely an illegal mercenary force heading for Equatorial Guinea is just a boy-band version of Blair and Bush's larger designs, in which geopolitical gains are placed alongside mineral wealth to defy international law, and where the spoils of conflict get divvied up among the victor's backers.
Although Equatorial Guinea has no Saddam Hussein, it most certainly does have a bad human rights record - like just about every other African state with oil reserves.
Ironically, the Malabo regime comes out of this episode looking relatively clean. Most of Britain, in fact, had not even registered Equatorial Guinea as existing, but everyone here knows the Thatchers. And anyone who appears to be an enemy of a Thatcher looks damn good by comparison.