Andy McSmith

Andy McSmith is a senior reporter at The Independent. He has vast experience in political journalism and has also appeared on documentaries for BBC Radio 4.

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Introducing Rupert, the Tory spy whose cover was blown on a Labour battle bus

Rupert the Young Conservative is not in line to be remembered as one of the great undercover operators of the age. He tried to infiltrate a Labour Party event, posing as a party activist, but overlooked some of the basics of successful spying – such as having a convincing back story and remembering his cover name.

Only 150,000 migrants are registered in classes where English is taught to people for whom it is not their first language

Cutbacks mean migrants are unable to find English classes

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are unable to get professional help learning English because of government cuts, according to a study of census data and course registrations.

The tower of St Michael's church in Glastonbury. St. Michael ranks among the seven archangels

Ukip's Wells branch in disarray after the 'Glastonbury occult crowd' accused of taking over

Wells candidate and local branch chairman stand down over concerns about party's reputation

Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne

One widow left the Tories more money than all of their membership subscriptions in 2013

The so-called 'Wicked Widow' left nearly £770,000

Labour’s private polls suggest that Ukip is a much bigger threat to the Tories

Labour outspent every other political party during 2013, and still had millions left over

Figures published show that the Labour Party had an income of £33,336,000

The Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex. The latest bidding process for shale companies seeking licences to explore for oil and gas has opened

‘Public interest’ will allow fracking on World Heritage sites

Government draws up guidelines for energy companies wanting to frack in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage sites and National Parks

Labour have accused the Government of 'turning their backs on victims' of domestic violence after figures showed increasing numbers of perpetrators were getting away without a criminal record. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper will renew a pledge to ban the use of 'slap-on-the-wrist' community resolutions in domestic and sexual violence cases

Violent partners let off with ‘slap on the wrist’ orders, says Labour

Women’s groups say the 'Community Resolution' procedure was never intended to be used for domestic violence

Sepp Blatter reveals Russia as the hosts of the 2018 tournament

World Cup 2018: MPs join Nick Clegg call for Russia to be axed as hosts over shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

Douglas Alexander, the shadow Foreign Secretary, urges world football’s authority, Fifa, to begin contingency planning

Ed Miliband will launch a campaign including more than a dozen speeches by Shadow Cabinet members over the next five weeks

'Politics should not be an ugly person's showbiz contest', says Ed Miliband as he announces plans for public Prime Minister's questions

Labour leader told Andrew Marr that if he becomes Prime Minister he will hold regular sessions where he takes questions from members of the public

Andy McSmith's Diary: Ukip now has a ‘front bench’ – just don’t try to sit on it

Did you know that Ukip has something called a “front bench”? Well, it has – and over the past two days, Nigel Farage has been conducting what his people grandly call a “reshuffle” to overcome the idea he runs the whole show single-handedly, and to give the party a more modern finish.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital