The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 6 February 2010

Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said MPs would vote next week on whether a referendum should be held to allow an alternative-vote system in general elections after the next one.

Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said MPs would vote next week on whether a referendum should be held to allow an alternative-vote system in general elections after the next one. The government also came up with new ideas for persecuting smokers, such as driving them from shelter in doorways. Members of the Scottish Parliament passed their own law to make shopkeepers hide cigarettes. During a meeting in Rome with the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, the Pope implicitly criticised the Equality Bill promoted by Miss Harriet Harman. ‘Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity,’ he said. ‘Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities.’ A clause in the Bill that would have obliged churches to employ militant homosexuals was defeated in the Lords. The Mr Justice Tugendhat lifted a ‘super-injunction’ that he had granted preventing reporting of an alleged affair between John Terry, the England football captain and a French underwear model who had been the girlfriend of his team-mate Wayne Bridge.

Mr Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, gave six hours of evidence to the Iraq inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot. Of Saddam Hussein, he said: ‘The decision I took — and frankly would take again — was if there was any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction we should stop him.’ The question of going to war, he said, ‘isn’t about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or a deception. It’s a decision.’ He took the opportunity to mention Iran 58 times: ‘I would say that a large part of the destabilisation in the Middle East at the present time comes from Iran.’

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