Home Public borrowing will exceed previous forecasts by £5 billion this year, £19 billion next year and £30 billion in 201314, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in an Autumn Statement delivered under dark clouds. The ratio of debt to GDP would rise to a peak of 78 per cent in 2014-15. He noted that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had revised forecasts for growth this year to 0.9 per cent (from the 1.7 per cent predicted in March), and for next year to 0.7 per cent. There would be a 1 per cent cap on public sector pay rises, he said. The 3p rise in fuel duty due in January was cancelled, but a 3p rise would come in next August. With the OBR forecast for public sector job losses revised to 710,000 (from 400,000), Mr Osborne announced a ‘credit easing programme’ to underwrite £40 billion in loans to small and medium-sized firms. The levy on bank borrowing was to increase, in an attempt to raise the £2.6 billion a year intended. There would be £5 billion more for infrastructure over three years, including £1 billion for railways. A portrait of John Bercow, the Speaker, cost £22,000 of public money, with another £15,000 for a frame incorporating his coat of arms, which features a ladder.
Thousands of schools were closed and hospitals disrupted as public sector workers struck for a day, including educational psychologists, chiropodists and immigration staff, although airports were not brought to a standstill as predicted. Thomas Cook, the travel company, found £200 million credit to continue in business. Katia Zatuliveter, who, MI5 had judged,
was placed in the office of the Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock by Russian agents, won her appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission against deportation. Gary Speed, the Wales football manager, aged 42, was found dead at his home. Britain was found to have the fattest women in Europe.
Among statements to the Leveson inquiry into the British press, Paul McMullan, formerly of the News of the World, said that after a policeman tipped off his paper that the daughter of the actor Denholm Elliott was a drug addict begging on the streets he had offered her £50 and taken pictures of her topless. She later killed herself. ‘I did really want to help her,’ he said, ‘but I was driven to write the best story I could.’ In the August riots, ‘all the seriously affected communities’ felt that ‘the police did not act quickly enough’, the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel reported. A woman was charged with racially aggravated harassment after a video of her shouting on the Croydon to Wimbledon tram was viewed on YouTube two million times. A monogrammed sheet and pillowcase that belonged to Hitler went for £2,000 at auction in Bristol.
Abroad Finance ministers from eurozone countries met to try to think up some way of raising funds to bail out teetering economies. Italy had to pay an unprecedented 6.5 per cent interest on sixmonth bonds and 7.8 per cent on two-year bonds. José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, unveiled plans for eurobonds in the face of German the spectator | 3 December 2011 | www.spectator.co.uk opposition. Portuguese workers held a one-day strike against austerity measures.
Egypt went to the polls as crowds rallied in Tahrir Square against military rule. The Arab League and Turkey took economic sanctions against Syria, as demonstrations against the regime continued, as did the killing of protestors. Britain withdrew some diplomats from Tehran after a mob stormed its embassy, protesting against economic sanctions against Iran. President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen agreed to step down in return for immunity from prosecution, saying he would go to New York for treatment. The king of Bahrain promised reforms after an independent report found excessive force and torture had been used against protestors. In Morocco, the Justice and Development party, which is rather Islamist, won elections. Nato helicopters killed 24 Pakistani troops at a checkpoint on the Afghan border by mistake. The UN said the new authorities in Libya were holding 7,000 prisoners. Doctors said that flesh around the severed thumb and finger of Saif al Islam, the captured son of Colonel Gaddafi, had turned gangrenous.
Anders Behring Breivik is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, according to a 243-page pre-trial report by two psychiatrists in Norway, and he had been in a psychotic state when he killed 77 people. American Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Nasa launched a probe to reach Mars in nine months and crawl about collecting information. The use of Wi-Fi laptops damages male fertility, according to a study by scientists in Argentina and the United States. CSH