7 Days

Breadline Brits The 1980s economic "miracle" lost a little of its shine as the Treasury revealed that 12 million people, a quarter of the UK population, live below the poverty line and that two out of five children are born poor. This is three times the level of 1977. The report, Tackling Poverty and Extending Opportunity, also showed that the gap between rich and poor has grown and in the developed world is second only to New Zealand.

Number-crunching British accountants are the best paid in the world, according to a survey by the magazine Management Today. The survey also found that British bosses are the best paid in Europe, although workers in manufacturing earn less than in any other country apart from Australia. British workers are also the cheapest in the developed world to dismiss from their jobs.

Will the train take the strain? Railtrack, the much criticised company that looks after the railway network, announced £27 billion of investment. It promised "the biggest investment since the days of Brunel", which is welcome news as many journeys are as slow as they were in the days of steam.

The most dangerous man in Europe . . . continued Romano Prodi, the former Italian prime minister, was chosen as the new president of the European Commission. A man with rather more gravitas than Jacques Santer, Prodi may find intrigue, alleged corruption and the darker political arts practised in Brussels reminiscent of Italian politics. He obviously has what it takes, as the Sun has already denounced him as an arch-Europhile.

Breaking rank Many strange bedfellows have been thrown together by the military action in Serbia, such as Tony Benn and Alan Clark, and Ken Livingstone and Tony Blair. The SNP, however, became the first party to break the political consensus when its leader, Alex Salmond, compared the bombing of Belgrade to the Blitz. During further hostilities the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, denounced Salmond as "the toast of Belgrade".

This article first appeared in the 02 April 1999 issue of the New Statesman, How the doves turned hawkish