Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

Mr Tony Blair, in a speech at the Labour party conference, said, 'The challenge we face is not in our values. It is how we put them into practice in a world fast-forwarding to the future at unprecedented speed.' To combat antisocial behaviour he proposed 'a radical extension of summary powers to police and local authorities to take on the wrongdoers' and 'more competitive sports in schools'. Mr Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who wants soon to be prime minister, said in his speech, 'I learnt from my parents not just to do my best and to work hard but to treat everyone equally, to respect others, to tell the truth, to take responsibility'; this he called his 'moral compass'. He promised, 'I will -- in the next year -- visit every region and nation of our country.' Only 61 per cent of the 1,001 ballots returned by members of the 'electoral college' of the Conservative party (MPs, constituency chairmen and other activists) voted to return the choice of a leader to MPs; a two thirds majority was needed to change the status quo. The Irish Republican Army has 'decommissioned' its arms, according to General John de Chastelain, the head of the international arms decommissioning body, and a chosen Methodist minister and a Catholic priest.

At the beginning of the news conference announcing the event, General de Chastelain said, 'I'm waiting for a starting gun . . .I should rephrase that, I'm waiting for somebody to tell me to start.' The World Toilet Summit, held in Belfast, heard that 'there is evidence that a significant number of children refuse to use school toilets because of the poorly maintained and unhygienic facilities. We know that there is an increased risk of urinary tract infections and constipation.' A 20year-old man of Asian origin joined the North Sussex magistracy; but he turned out not to be a disc jockey as had earlier been feared. …

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