PORTRAIT OF THE YEAR
January Britain crept out of recession, with 0.1 per cent growth in the previous three months. Full-body scanners were to be introduced at British airports after a man tried to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in his underpants. Snow swept the land with the temperature falling to minus 22.3°C. An earthquake killed tens of thousands in Haiti and perhaps 1.5 million were made homeless. Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, was released from prison in Turkey. Ali Hassan al-Majid, ‘Chemical Ali’, was hanged in Iraq. A British citizen was executed in China for smuggling 9lb of heroin. China said it had become the world’s biggest exporter.
February Labour unveiled the slogan ‘A future fair for all’. Three Labour MPs and a Conservative peer were charged under the Theft Act 1968 over their expenses. Commander Ali Dizaei of the Met was sentenced to four years on charges of falsely arresting a man. Tony Blair gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry. Sir John Dankworth died, aged 82. Dick Francis died, aged 89. Alexander McQueen hanged himself, aged 40. John Terry was sacked as England football captain. Gordon Brown forswore Kit-Kats in favour of nine bananas a day. The Scottish parliament made shopkeepers hide cigarettes by law. The number of British servicemen who had died in Afghanistan overtook the 255 killed in the Falklands. Nato and Afghan troops began an offensive in Helmand. The EU told Greece to cut its public sector pay bill; Greek public sector workers went on strike.
March The Conservatives unveiled the slogan ‘Vote for change’. The EU gave protected origin status to Yorkshire rhubarb. Harry Carpenter died, aged 84. British Airways cabin crew went on strike. Barack Obama’s health-care bill was voted through. Iraq held elections. North Korea sank a South Korean vessel, killing 46. Somali pirates captured a Saudi oil tanker. Talks broke down between Iceland and Britain over repayment of billions lost by investors in the failed bank Icesave. An Indian spacecraft detected ice near the Moon’s north pole.
April Gordon Brown launched Labour’s manifesto in an empty hospital in Birmingham. David Cameron launched the Conservatives’ at the ruined Battersea power station. Nick Clegg, the Lib-Dem leader, suddenly became very popular through televised debates between party leaders. All flights to and from Britain were stopped by an ash cloud from Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland. Kenneth McKellar died, aged 82. The Independent was sold for £1 to Alexander Lebedev, the rich former KGB officer. President Lech Kaczynski and many prominent Poles died in an air crash at Smolensk in Russia. Oil began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico after a BP drilling rig exploded. The debts of Greece were downgraded to junk status. President Barack Obama was found to have played golf 32 times since his election.
May David Cameron, aged 43, became Prime Minister, in a ‘full coalition’ with the Liberal Democrats, with Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister. The Tories won 306 seats, Labour 258, and the Liberal Democrats 57. Gordon Brown had apologised during the election campaign to Mrs Gillian Duffy for calling her a ‘bigoted woman’, unaware that his microphone was on. British Airways cabin crew went on strike. Eurozone countries and the IMF lent €110 billion to Greece. President Obama blamed BP for the continuing oil leak. Troops fired on protesters camped in the centre of Bangkok. Prosecutors in Naples accused pizza shops of using firewood from dug-up coffins.
June Derrick Bird, aged 52, shot dead 12 people in west Cumbria and then himself. After 12 years, the Saville Inquiry, costing £195 million, published a 5,000-page report on the shooting dead of 13 people in Londonderry in 1972, finding that the soldiers fired first and none of those killed was armed. BA cabin crew went on strike. The Queen visited Canada for the 24th time. John Prescott was among 56 new peers. Egon Ronay died, aged 94. Israeli troops killed ten aboard a ship full of proPalestinian campaigners bound for Gaza. The United States expelled ten Russians as spies. Dennis Hopper died, aged 74. The BBC received complaints about the noise of vuvuzelas throughout World Cup matches.
the spectator | 18/25 December 2010 | www.spectator.co.uk defence review decommissioned the carrier Ark Royal and cancelled the Harrier jets for two new aircraft carriers. Coca-Coca ended production of bottled Malvern water. Hastings pier burnt down. The 33 Chilean miners trapped underground since 5 August were brought to the surface one by one in a capsule winched up a shaft bored down to them. WikiLeaks released 400,000 classified US documents about the war in Iraq. Tariq Aziz, the foreign minister of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, was sentenced to death. France saw a wave of strikes. Dame Joan Sutherland died, aged 83. Tony Curtis died, aged 85. The Mexican army seized 105 tons of marijuana in Tijuana.
July Raoul Moat shot himself a week after shooting a man dead at Rothbury, Northumberland. In Liverpool, David Cameron tried to relaunch his ‘Big Society’. Jon Venables, aged 27, one of the murderers of James Bulger in 1982, was jailed for two years on charges of distributing child pornography. Alex Higgins died, aged 61. One in 36 pound coins was found to be fake. The Queen addressed the United Nations. BP succeeded in stopping oil from leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, and Tony Hayward resigned as the company’s chief executive. The WikiLeaks website distributed 90,000 classified US military documents about the war in Afghanistan.
August David and Victoria Beckham parted with 14 of their 50 servants because of the hard times. Lord Pearson of Rannoch decided to resign as leader of Ukip, being ‘not much good’ at it. Monsoon flooding in Pakistan affected 14 million people at a time. Wildfires in Russia put up world wheat prices. A hailstone weighing 1lb 15oz fell in South Dakota. The United States ended combat operations in Iraq. In Chile, 33 men were found to be alive 2,300ft underground, 17 days after a mine collapse.
September The Pope visited Britain, addressing parliament at Westminster Hall and beatifying Cardinal Newman in Birmingham. Ed Miliband, aged 40, was elected Labour leader, beating his brother David, who then decided to leave ‘frontline politics’. Tony Blair published his memoir, A Journey. The body of an MI6 man was found in a holdall in the bath of his Pimlico flat. A ‘middle man’ was filmed accepting £150,000 for Pakistan cricketers to bowl no-balls in a Test match to facilitate a betting coup. Sir Cyril Smith died, aged 82. A man with no arms or legs swam the Channel. An earthquake in New Zealand damaged 100,000 homes but killed no one.
October George Osborne announced that child benefits would be withdrawn from any family with one parent earning more than £44,000. He published a comprehensive spending review which proposed cutting spending by 3.3 per cent over four years. A
the spectator | 18/25 December 2010 | www.spectator.co.uk
November Two bombs were found in airfreight from Yemen, one in England. Prince William and Kate Middleton said they would marry in Westminster Abbey on 29 April. Early snow swept the land. Four Church of England bishops said they would join the Catholic Church. Ireland reluctantly accepted €85 billion in loans from the EU and IMF and had to agree to new austerity measures. WikiLeaks released 251,287 US diplomatic cables. North Korea fired artillery shells on to an island in South Korea. Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in Rangoon. Paul and Rachel Chandler were released after 13 months being held by Somali pirates.
December MPs voted for higher tuition fees to be repaid by students as rioters in London caused damage and broke the window of the Prince of Wales’s car. Gordon Brown published Beyond the Crash. Tony Blair was recalled by the Iraq Inquiry. A Russian woman working for a Lib Dem MP faced deportation after an MI5 investigation. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was held in jail while Sweden applied for his extradition on charges of sexual assault. Amazon and credit card companies refused facilities to WikiLeaks, and in response hackers brought down the Swedish government website and blocked credit card payments. Deep snow seized upon most of Britain.