Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

The government decided to put off overhauling council tax by revaluing houses until after the next election. The National Health Service, despite unprecedented increases in government spending on it, went into the red for the first time in five years, with a deficit of £250 million, which Sir Nigel Crisp, its chief executive, pointed out was only 0.4 per cent of its £69.7 billion budget. Mr Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, proposed keeping suspected terrorists in jail for three months without charge; but he inadvertently sent out a letter that retained an earlier draft of his views, including the sentence, 'I believe there is room for debate as to whether we should go as far as three months.' In a speech reported before its delivery, Mr Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said that some areas in Britain were becoming 'fully fledged ghettos -- literal black holes'. Miss Leanne Wood, the Plaid Cymru social justice spokesman, wrote to Sir Philip Mawer, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, asking him to investigate a claim that Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, had shouted 'Fucking Welsh!' when he learned of Labour losses in the 1999 Welsh Assembly elections; the claim was made by Mr Lance Price, formerly the deputy media adviser to the Prime Minister, in a book about Downing Street. Prince Henry of Wales, in an interview for his 21st birthday, said of the Duchess of Cornwall, 'William and I love her to bits.' An 11ft-high white marble statue by Marc Quinn called 'Alison Lapper Pregnant' was installed for 18 months on the vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square. Four men among the 38,000 who took part in the Great North Run half-marathon collapsed and died.

North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons and allow United Nations inspections. The agreement emerged from talks that had been going on since 2003 between six countries: China, Japan, Russia, the United States, North Korea and South Korea. …

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