The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 8 October 2015

Portrait of the week | 8 October 2015
Text settings


David Cameron, the Prime Minister, told  the Conservative party conference in Manchester: ‘We need a national crusade to get homes built.’ George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that councils would be allowed to set their own business rates and keep all the money they raise. Lord Adonis, the Labour peer, moved to the crossbenches on being appointed by Mr Osborne to head the new National Infrastructure Commission, to assess needs and ‘hold any government’s feet to the fire if it fails to deliver’.

In a speech to the Tory conference that the Institute of Directors called ‘irresponsible rhetoric’ and Migration Watch UK called ‘thoroughly courageous’, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said that migrants ‘who claim asylum after abusing the visa system or having travelled to get here through safe countries’ would only be granted a minimum stay of protection. Hundreds of left-wing protesters spat on people waiting to get into the conference. Charlotte Church, the singer turned political activist, said that she was going to write an open letter apologising for their behaviour. Lord Healey, who as Denis Healey served as Defence Secretary, 1964-70, and Chancellor of the Exchequer 1974-79, died, aged 98.

Investors seeking less than a £1,000 holding will be offered priority and a 5 per cent discount in a £2 billion government sale of Lloyds Banking Group shares. Zac Goldsmith was adopted as the Conservative candidate to run for Mayor of London. Tesco’s underlying profits for the first half of the year were £354 million, compared with £779 a year earlier. A seven-year-old girl and a woman in her seventies were killed when a bus, driven by a 77-year-old former mayor, crashed into a branch of Sainsbury’s in Coventry. Two men were arrested on suspicion of murder after a policeman was struck by a stolen vehicle and killed on a dual carriageway in Wallasey. Liverpool football club sought to engage Jürgen Klopp, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, as its manager. England became the first host nation to fail to make the knockout stages in Rugby World Cup history.


Russia carried out airstrikes in Syria on what it called ‘terrorists’; the United States noted that strikes took place where the Islamic State group is not present and that one group hit were CIA-trained opponents of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The Islamic State was reported to have destroyed the Arch of Triumph built in Palmyra by the Romans in the second century ad. Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of Nato, said that Russia had not provided ‘any real explanation’ for an incident in which it violated Turkish air-space. Turkey told the EU that millions more refugees could flee Syria as the civil war intensified. The EU offered Turkey €1 billion to help refugees, but ignored demands made by its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the creation of a safe haven and no-fly zone on Syria’s northern border. Hamburg passed a law allowing the seizure of empty commercial properties in order to house migrants, who were arriving at the rate of 400 a day. At a reception centre in Hamburg-Bergedorf, 200 Syrians and Afghans were involved in a brawl. Flash floods in the French Riviera killed 19 and washed cars away.

The US commander of international forces in Afghanistan said that a hospital ‘was mistakenly struck’ in an air attack that killed 22, including 12 staff from Médecins Sans Frontières, in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, which national forces were attempting to win back from the Taleban. After Chris Harper Mercer, aged 26, whose father comes from Lancashire, shot nine people dead in Roseburg, Oregon, the Roseburg Beacon newspaper said that a visit was not welcome from President Barack Obama, because he had said, ‘This is something we should politicise,’ in order to change gun laws. The number of cases of dengue fever in Delhi rose above 7,600 while the city authorities braced themselves for an outbreak of H1N1 swine flu. A new species of pig-nosed rat was discovered on Sulawesi island, Indonesia.

The International Monetary Fund reduced its forecast for global economic growth this year to 3.1 per cent, from the 3.3 per cent it predicted in July. A diner said that a restaurant owner in the Chinese city of Qingdao threatened him with a stick when he refused to pay £160 for 40 prawns that he thought cost £4 for the dish, not £4 for each prawn.    CSH