The Week in Review: Home News

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The Independent Online
IT WAS the week of the ostrich position. This is the undignified state in which, according to George Carman QC, politicians are liable to find themselves. 'If a politician . . . behaves like an ostrich and puts his head in the sand and thereby exposes his thinking parts,' he said, 'it may be a newspaper is entitled to say so.'

David Mellor QC found himself with his head well below the water table by the end of the week. His resignation on Thursday was the final act in an extended political soap opera. It began two months ago with a Sunday newspaper article about the Secretary of State for National Heritage and an actress, Antonia de Sancha. The minister's unusual support for the arts was followed by allegations of unusual support for free holidays in Spain and Abu Dhabi, free luxury flats, and free luxury cars.

Mr Carman's graphic description came during the Mona Bauwens libel trial, which ended in deadlock on Tuesday. Mr Carman was defending the People newspaper, which was accused of being nasty to Mrs Bauwens, a Palestinian, by implying she was a supporter of the PLO and thus a 'social leper'. By the end of the trial, Mr Mellor may have felt he was the social leper.

John Major found himself in a Euro-ostrich position, with his head firmly underground. With a falling pound, rising unemployment and disintegrating policies over Europe, the Government came under extreme pressure. There were two bits of good news for the Government as Parliament was recalled on Thursday. One was that Norman Lamont had saved his job by cutting interest rates. The other was the discovery that half the population did not have the faintest idea what it was all about.

It was a week for schadenfreude which, as every schoolboy in the new Europe knows, means taking delight in the discomfort of others.

The injunction 'Don't mention the war]' went out of the window as the inquest continued into the sterling crisis. The Germans were widely held responsible.

So there was no widespread lamentation when, Erich Kraft and Jochen Mass, two Germans taking part in a balloon race, ran out of fuel and ditched in the Atlantic 700 miles from Nova Scotia.