Andrew Mitchell, the Conservative chief whip, resigned, still denying that he referred to police as ‘plebs’ for refusing to allow him to cycle through the main gate to Downing Street three weeks ago. The Chancellor, George Osborne, was caught in a first-class carriage with a standard-class ticket. One of his aides paid £160 for an upgrade, saying that the Chancellor couldn’t possibly travel in standard class. The Prime Minister said that energy companies would be put under a duty to make sure that their customers were on the lowest-possible tariff, but the plan lasted only three hours. The working population rose by 212,000 to just under 30 million, the highest number ever recorded. Lord Blair, former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, called upon the public to boycott the first elections for police commissioners, due on 15 November. David Cameron said, in a speech on crime policy, that ‘retribution is not a dirty word’.
BBC news channels were preoccupied with the story of how the BBC programme Newsnight failed to report accusations that the late disc jockey Jimmy Savile allegedly abused underage girls on BBC premises. The editor of Newsnight ‘stepped aside’ after emails revealed a slightly different string of events regarding the cancelling of the report than had previously been given. The BBC director-general George Entwistle told MPs it was a mistake to cancel the report. A programme to cull badgers in areas where bovine TB is present was delayed for a year. Frankel, the British thoroughbred racehorse, retired undefeated after winning the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
Two Scottish National Party MSPs, John Finnie and Jean Urquhart, quit the party in protest at its new policy favouring membership of Nato. The SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon admitted that the leader, Alex Salmond, had not taken legal advice on whether an independent Scotland would have to reapply for membership of the EU, contrary to assurances he had given. One woman was killed and 13 injured when a man in a white van apparently went on a hit-and-run spree in Cardiff. The government announced a voluntary ‘traffic light’ scheme for food manufacturers and retailers to warn consumers about food deemed to be unhealthy. Lord Bichard, former head of the Benefits Agency, suggested that pensioners should be required to undertake voluntary work in old people’s homes or face losing some of their pension. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence advised smokers to inhale less.
President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney took part in their third and final TV debate before polling day in the US elections. The President said that his rival was wrong about everything on foreign policy, while Mr Romney said the US couldn’t ‘kill our way’ out of the threat from al-Qa’eda. The polls continued to show the candidates neck and neck. The assassination of the head of Lebanon’s security services sparked violent protests from those who detected the hand of President Assad’s regime in Syria. Russia claimed that the Syrian rebels fighting President Assad’s regime have US-made surface-to-air missiles, and demanded to know whether the US was supplying them with weapons. There was another exchange of missiles between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Seven members of Italy’s Major Risks Committee were each jailed for six years for failing to predict the severity of an earthquake at L’Aquila in 2009. The International Cycling Union stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, following accusations of blood-doping. A Lincolnshire farmer signed a contract with the Burmese government to dig up 36 Spitfires he believes to have been buried at an airbase at the end of the second world war. George McGovern, the 1972 US Democratic presidential candidate who lost all but one state (Massachusetts) and the District of Columbia to Richard Nixon, died aged 90. Fidel Castro, 86, posed for photographs with the day’s newspaper in an attempt to prove he isn’t yet on his deathbed. A Brazilian car-washer turned up at his own funeral after his brother had wrongly identified his body in a mortuary.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 27 October 2012