Portrait of the Week

The Spectator, May 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

Portrait of the Week


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The UK Independence Party gave the government and opposition a jolt by doing well in the elections for 34 English councils, increasing its number of councillors from eight to 147 and gaining a projected national vote share of 23 per cent (compared with 25 per cent for the Conservatives, 29 per cent for Labour and 14 per cent for the Liberal Democrats). In a parliamentary by-election at South Shields, the Lib Dems were driven into seventh place, with only 352 votes, with Labour retaining the seat with 12,493 and Ukip coming second with 5,988. Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, grinned a good deal and said 'Send in the clowns, ' throwing back at him Kenneth Clarke's pejorative description of Ukip supporters. Lord Lawson, the former chancellor of the exchequer, called for Britain to leave the EU, saying that it would be financially beneficial.

Nigel Evans, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, was arrested by police investigating complaints from two men of a rape and a sexual assault. He was bailed until 19 June, but he requested not to sit during the debate on the Queen's Speech. Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, said that the corporation might have to pay compensation to the 13 women whom the broadcaster Stuart Hall, aged 83, admitted indecently assaulting between 1967 and 1985. During a trial at the Old Bailey, the court was told that Eddy Shah, the former newspaper owner, aged 69, had sexual relations with a girl when she was aged 14 and 15 in the 1990s. Jimmy Tarbuck, the comedian, aged 73, was arrested and questioned about an alleged assault of a young boy in the late 1970s.

In the Queen's speech the government promised another Dangerous Dogs Bill and a single state pension of £144. The Queen will not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in November, and will be represented by the Prince of Wales. There were 22 serious incidents involving people trying to use the new 111 health helpline, according to Pulse, the GPs' magazine. Commercial call-centre staff from Wrexham flew to Auckland, New Zealand, to work during the day there to cover night shifts back home. Sir Alex Ferguson, aged 71, is to retire as manager of Manchester United at the end of the season, after 26 years. …

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