The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 27 March 2014

Portrait of the week | 27 March 2014
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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that inheritance tax ‘shouldn’t be paid by people who’ve worked hard and saved and who bought a family house’ and that this would be addressed in the Conservative manifesto. Two opinion polls after the Budget, by Survation for the Mail on Sunday and by YouGov for the Sunday Times, had put Labour one percentage point ahead of the Conservatives. Nineteen Labour movement figures wrote to the Guardian warning the party not to hope to win the election on the basis of Tory unpopularity. The rate of inflation fell from 1.9 to 1.7 per cent, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, or from 2.8 to 2.7 per cent as measured by the Retail Prices Index. The government said it would sell another 7.5 per cent of Lloyds bank, worth about £4.2 billion at current prices. Royal Mail said it would cut 1,600 jobs to cut costs, mainly among managerial staff. Tax receipts from North Sea oil and gas will fall from £4.7 billion this year to £3.2 billion in 2016-17, the Office for Budget Responsibility said. A two-storey cottage in Colchester, 11 ft by 6 ft, went on sale at £77,000.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, decided to go through with his televised debate with Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party. Public Health England, the government’s public health advisory body, urged councils in England to add fluoride to water to improve dental health. The 40 per cent rise in deaths from liver disease in England between 2001 and 2012 was a scandal, the all-party Parliamentary Hepatology Group said, since the main causes — alcohol misuse, obesity and viral hepatitis — were all preventable.

The Prison Service was found to be prohibiting packages, including books, from being sent to prisoners. MPs voted in favour of an amendment to the Deregulation Bill to allow the decriminalisation of non-payment of the television licence fee. Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Féin, asked his solicitor to contact the police to check if they wanted to interview him about the murder of Jean McConville by the IRA in 1972, in which he played no part, he said. Pub landlords are the least satisfied of 274 occupations according to the Legatum Institute think-tank, and clergymen the most.


Russian forces stormed Ukrainian military bases in Crimea, without loss of life. At a meeting in The Hague the G7 countries — the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — cancelled a summit with Russia as the G8, to have been held at Sochi. Oleksandr Muzychko, a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist leader better known as Sashko Bily, died in a shoot-out with police at a café in Rivne in western Ukraine. Michelle Obama, the wife of the President of the United States, played ping-pong during a visit to China. The Kenyan parliament passed a bill allowing men to marry as many wives as they liked, without consulting existing wives.

Najib Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia, said that satellite data showed that Malaysia airlines flight MH370, with 239 people on board, missing since 8 March, had ended its journey in remote seas south-west of Australia. The Turkish government banned the use of Twitter, after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, was angered by allegations of corruption, though President Abdullah Gul of Turkey managed to tweet that the ‘shutdown was unacceptable’. Turkey shot down a Syrian military jet that it said had been violating its airspace. North Korea test-fired dozens of short-range rockets. Dozens of people remained unaccounted for after a 170 ft wall of mud hit near the town of Oso, north of Seattle.

After a hearing of less than an hour, a court in Minya in Egypt sentenced to death 528 supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi who were accused of some part in an attack on a police station there last August. Uruguay said that it was willing to take five of the 154 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay. Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled invalid the general election held in February. Tesco is to invest £85 million as the first foreign supermarket to operate in India. Copenhagen Zoo killed four healthy lions for which it was unable to find homes. French authorities investigated how two boys aged five and six had never left the flat in which they lived in the Seine-Saint-Denis suburb of Paris. Guinea, in an attempt to halt the spread of the ebola virus, an outbreak of which had killed 62 people, banned the eating of bats.    CSH