7 Days

Straw men? Jack Straw tilted at asylum applicants who are "just trying to take us for a ride". A new bill will establish a special Home Office agency, removing cash benefits, taxing immigration advisers, raising fines for those providing transport into the UK, preventing "quickie marriages" and dispersing refugees to "reception zones" across the country.

More jaw-jaw Robin Cook and the US envoy Christopher Hill both rolled up their sleeves in an effort to advance the negotiations between Kosovan Albanians and Serbs at Rambouillet Castle, near Paris. Disagreements over the scope of the talks prevented the two negotiating teams from meeting face to face.

Carry on Ken Livingstone bypassed "the Millbank tendency" in an effort to secure a place on the Labour Party shortlist for Mayor of London. The former Greater London Council leader placed an advertisement in the London Evening Standard commending his loyalty and suitability to members. The party dismissed the bid as "premature".

Ofsteady Chris Woodhead, Ofsted's grand scrutiniser, narrowly escaped a Hoddle-style scalping after remarking that teacher-pupil relationships should not be considered a sacking offence tout court. The sound of old axes being ground confused the lynch mob just long enough for the cavalry to arrive, in the shape of David Blunkett, assorted media pundits and education reform supporters.

Wagons rollin' As the Good Friday Agreement's 10 March deadline looms, Mo Mowlam can draw succour from Geordie truck-drivers, delighted by her kind words about them on Parkinson. The Road Haulage Association put in a request for a batch of signed photographs of the Northern Ireland Secretary.

Complications The Health Secretary's promise to reduce NHS waiting lists by 100,000 patients before April was questioned after new figures showed a rise of 13,000 awaiting medical treatment. The December rise was, however, dismissed as a "blip", caused by flu and a meningitis scare that swamped A&E clinics throughout the Christmas holiday.

This article first appeared in the 12 February 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Kick out the image-makers