The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 9 November 2002

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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Mr Iain Duncan Smith noted that 'a small group of my parliamentary colleagues have decided consciously to undermine my leadership'; he concluded: 'My message is simple and stark, unite or die.' His statement came the day after eight Tory MPs defied a three-line whip and voted in favour of a government amendment to the Adoption Bill to allow pairs of unmarried people, of which-ever sex, to adopt children jointly; the MPs were Mr Michael Portillo, Mr Kenneth Clarke, Mr Andrew Lansley, Mr Francis Maude, Mr David Curry, Miss Julie Kirkbride, Mr Andrew Mackay and Mr John Bercow (who had resigned from the shadow Cabinet the previous day on the issue). The Bill, including the amendment, passed the Commons and the Lords to become law. Mr Paul Burrell, a butler to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, was found not guilty of theft after his trial collapsed when the Queen told the Prince of Wales she had remembered something, viz: that Mr Burrell had mentioned to her that he was looking after some letters among the Princess's property. No mention, however, was made of other items such as a ceramic kingfisher, the gift of President and Mrs Reagan. Police arrested a group of Albanians and Romanians in a carpark in Poplar, east London, and they were charged with theft and conspiracy to rob; but the police had been led to make the arrests by the News of the World, which said it had uncovered a plot to kidnap Mrs Victoria Beckham and her two little children Brooklyn and Romeo. Hospital consultants rejected a new contract presented to them by the government by a proportion of two to one, except in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where it was accepted; it had been recommended by the British Medical Association. The government proposed, in a discussion paper called Living Places, to restrict the sale of chewing-gum in areas where its jettisoning was a nuisance. Lonnie Donegan, the skiffle player whose hits included 'My Old Man's a Dustman', died, aged 71. A teenaged repeat offender who wears an electronic tag won nearly £10 million in the national lottery. A 60-year-old woman who won £2 million in the lottery suffered a deep-vein thrombosis on making her first trip abroad.

A Hellfire missile from an unmanned CIA drone aircraft killed six men in a car in Yemen, including As Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, also known as Abu Ali, one of the chief suspects in the al-Qa'eda bombing of the American warship Cole in the port of Aden in October 2000. In mid-term elections in the United States, the Republicans increased their majority in the House of Representatives and gained control of the Senate. Mr Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, called elections for 28 January and appointed Mr Binyamin Netanyahu as foreign minister after the coalition led by his Likud party broke down; Mr Netanyahu hopes to secure the Likud nomination as prime minister if it wins the election. In Turkey, the Justice and Development party (AK), which furthers the interests of Muslims, won the right to form a government by securing 33.4 per cent of the vote in the general election, easily beating the ruling Democratic Left party, which gained 1.2 per cent of the votes, too few to win a seat; AK's leader, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been debarred from standing for parliament because of a conviction in 1998 when he was mayor of Istanbul on charges of 'seeking to incite racial hatred'. He had recited a poem at a rally which ran: 'Mosques are our barracks, the minarets our bayonets, the domes our helmets and the believers our soldiers.' An earthquake killed 29, including 26 children whose school collapsed on to them, at San Giuliano di Puglia in Italy. Gay members of Spain's Guardia Civil are to be allowed to live with their partners in married quarters in barracks. Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the Prime Minister of Belgium, cancelled a meeting with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany after falling off his bicycle and breaking his elbow.