The Spectator

Portrait of the Week – 15 February 2003

A speedy round-up of the week's news

Thousands prepared to march to Hyde Park in London to demonstrate opposition to war against Iraq; they included Mr Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Liberal Democrat party. About 400 soldiers from the Grenadier Guards and Household Cavalry with armoured cars began to patrol Heathrow airport, authorised by Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister. The England cricket team decided not to play in the World Cup in Zimbabwe out of fear of a death threat, they said. On television Mr Blair gave Mr Jeremy Paxman an undertaking about the number of applications for asylum being made: ‘I would like to see us reduce it by 30-40 per cent in the next few months, and I think by September of this year we should have it halved.’ Mr David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, was said to have remarked that this target was ‘undeliverable’, but Home Office spokesmen said Mr Blair had been ‘indicating what our broad expectation of the policy is’. Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Lord Chancellor, decided not to take the 12.6 per cent rise of £22,691 a year recommended by an independent review body but instead to take 2.25 per cent, an increase of £4,051 on his present salary of £180,045. Teachers were awarded 2.9 per cent (although those in London got 4 per cent); soldiers got 3.2 per cent, with most privates seeing an increase from £12,578 to £13,045. A survey found that 51 per cent of Britons suffered work-related nightmares at least once a week. The so-called Continuity IRA set off a bomb in the centre of Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, but did not manage to kill anyone. Canon Tom Wright, aged 54, who has published more than 30 books on godly themes, was named the next Bishop of Durham. Sales of recorded music fell by 4 per cent last year, through the copying of compact discs and Internet files.

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