Barrier breaker did a good job

Carme Chacon

THERE was discussion between Washington and the US ambassador to Madrid regarding Carme Chacon’s appointment as Defence minister in 2008.

Minister of Housing until then, she was 39 and pregnant but Eduardo Aguirre commented that although young and inexperienced “she should not be underestimated.”

Spanish president Jose Luis Zapatero regarded her as ‘a strong manager’ and Aguirre patronisingly predicted that given time she would ‘grow into the job.’

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Tragically, Chacon no longer has time. Having left politics she was found dead in her Madrid home, the victim of a heart condition that she had lived with since she was 10.

She was Spain’s first female Minister of Defence, she reviewed troops in a maternity smock, visited troops in Afghanistan when she was seven months pregnant and refused to observe the convention that women should wear a dress at the Armed Forces’ big day, the Pascua Militar.

She ignored many barriers, including that of her health, but would have preferred to be remembered as Defence minister not because she was a woman, but because she did a good job.

If only

IF Carme Chacon had collected 22 more votes in 2013, she would have become secretary general of the PSOE socialist party.

The former Minister of Defence had challenged the incumbent secretary general Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, a decent man and respected politician who didn’t have what it took to connect with the public.

As happens too often, Rubalcaba had what it took to connect with the party hierarchy and Chacon lost out by an ironically small margin.

It’s hard not to regard Rubalcaba as a dog in the manger because he resigned a year later and was succeeded not by Chacon, who had retreated to the sidelines, but by Pedro Sanchez.

The rest, as they say is history, but there would be an entirely different story to tell if 22 party members had voted differently in February 2013.

 Heart of the matter

WINNING Hearts and Minds failed miserably in Iraq although the concept is sound enough.

Instead of referring every Catalan transgression to the tribunals, perhaps Mariano Rajoy could try winning some Hearts and Minds himself.

On second thoughts perhaps it would make as little impression on Cataluña as it did on Iraq.

 Not my fault

JORGE FERNANDEZ DIAZ, former Interior minister, is suspected of waging a dirty war to discredit secessionist Catalan politicians.

He told a parliamentary commission that possibly he had not kept a close enough watch on subordinates.

Which means he is either lying or incompetent.


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