Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt


Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and D eputy Prime Minister, said:

'People want a louder Liberal Democrat voice in government, ' after his party did very badly in local elections and saw its proposal of the alternative vote defeated in a national referendum. Mr Clegg said there would be 'substantial and significant changes' to the stalled NHS reform Bill.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary said that the Conservatives had emerged as 'ruthless, calculating and thoroughly tribal'. The Conservatives were left controlling 157 councils of the 279 contested (an increase of four), Labour 57 (an increase of 26) and the Liberal Democrats ten (a decrease of nine). In the AV referendum, 13,013,123 voted no and 6,152,607 yes. Only 10 of the 440 voting areas voted yes. The turnout was 42.2 per cent. The standards and privileges committee found that David Laws, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, had breached six rules on parliamentary expenses.

The Scottish National Party won 69 of the 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament.

Iain Gray, the leader of the Scottish Labour party, Tavish Scott, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and Annabel Goldie, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, all resigned their posts.

Alex Salmond, the leader of the SNP, said that on no account would there be an early referendum on Scottish independence. The giant Amorphophallus titanum, the world's smelliest flower, giving off a stench of rotting flesh, came into bloom at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

The British Bankers' Association gave up its legal fight against a judgment on mis-selling of payment protection insurance.

The new chief executive at Lloyds, Antonio Horta-Osorio, had already said the bank would abandon legal resistance to claims, and set aside £3.2 billion for possible compensation; the total for all the banks might be £8 billion or more. Annual profits at Sainsbury's rose by 13 per cent. Theft of cabling from railways cost Network Rail £16.5 million last year. Sir Paul McCartney became engaged to Nancy Shevell, a New Yorker. A boy is taking St Gregory's Catholic Science College in Harrow, north London, to the High Court, arguing that its ban on cornrow hairstyles was unlawful.


The Syrian army surrounded the Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya as protests against the government continued. …

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