The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 5 November 2015

Portrait of the week | 5 November 2015
Text settings


The all-party Foreign Affairs Committee urged David Cameron, the Prime Minister, not to press ahead with a Commons vote on British air strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria. At its conference, Scottish Labour adopted a policy of opposition to Trident renewal, though Kezia Dugdale, its leader, remained in favour, while the Labour party in the United Kingdom as a whole favoured retaining the nuclear deterrent, though its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, opposes it. Britain was smothered in fog, except in Wales, where temperatures on 1 November reached a record 22˚C. A man had his ear bitten off in a pub in Aberystwyth on Halloween.

Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and the last British resident to be held in Guantanamo Bay, arrived by air at Biggin Hill, having been detained without trial for 13 years. The government introduced the Investigatory Powers Bill to require communication companies to retain internet browsing histories for the police to inspect, although they would not be able to see the pages viewed without a warrant, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, assured critics. The Commons public accounts committee criticised HM Revenue and Customs for failing to answer half of phone calls. Peter Donaldson, the BBC announcer, died aged 70. Fish (in the form of isinglass) was removed from the recipe for Guinness.

During a visit to Berlin, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that countries which do not use the euro should not be discriminated against and not required to bail out single currency members. The Michelin tyre factory in Ballymena, Co. Antrim, is to close in 2018 with the loss of 860 jobs. Gatwick airport introduced a ‘premium passport control’ service which for an extra £12.50 offered travellers less delay on arrival. Tom Graveney, who scored 122 first-class centuries, died, aged 88. Colin Welland, PC Graham in Z Cars, died, aged 81. Downing Street digitally added a remembrance poppy to a photograph of David Cameron on its Facebook page. The Victoria & Albert museum came under pressure to accept an offer of Lady Thatcher’s clothes.


A Russian Airbus 321 from Sharm el-Sheikh, bound for St Petersburg, broke up in the air over northern Sinai, killing all 224 on board. President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt flew to Britain on a planned visit. As talks began in Vienna on ways of stopping the civil war in Syria, Russia said it was not crucial for President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power, saying it was up to the Syrian people. A Syrian government bombing raid on the Douma district of Damascus killed 40. Salafist militiamen drove Alawite women in cages about on the backs of pickup trucks in Douma as human shields. Ahmed Chalabi, the secular Shia Iraqi politician who helped persuade the United States to invade in 2003, died, aged 71. Kazakhstan replaced the head of its central bank after the national currency, the tenge, had fallen by a third since he allowed it to float in August.

In the second Turkish general election this year, the AK party, founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gained 317 of the 550 seats, enabling it to govern alone but not to hold a referendum on changing the constitution to increase the powers of the president. Turkish police arrested 44 people suspected of having links to Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Islamic cleric accused of seeking to overthrow the government. The UNHCR put the number of migrants who entered Europe by sea in October at 218,394, about the same as for the whole of last year. A group of 114 migrants who landed at a British base in Cyprus caused a series of disturbances, including setting fire to a tent, in their attempts to leave.

President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan flew to Singapore to meet his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping. Al-Shabab gunmen used two car bombs to blast their way into the compound of the Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and killed 15 people. Victor Ponta resigned as prime minister of Romania after a fire killed 32 people in a nightclub. Volkswagen said 800,000 of its cars in Europe had been sold with false information about their carbon dioxide emissions. Australia will no longer appoint knights and dames, reintroduced last year, the country’s new prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said. The creator of Candy Crush Saga, King Digital Entertainment, was bought by the American computer game company Activision Blizzard, which produces Call of Duty, for £3.8 billion. Amazon opened a shop in Seattle that sells books. CSH