Ian Birrell

Ian Birrell is a former Deputy Editor of The Independent and co-founder of Africa Express

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Is Chris Grayling a liberal in disguise?

For all the froth, fury, and indignant nonsense of our lock 'em up culture, the Coalition's quiet penal reforms are progressive and reassuring

Ian Birrell: The Lib Dems don't need a new leader. They need a point

Searching for cheap populist policies and silent on issues long held sacred, what do they stand for now?

Ian Birrell: Cameron must now embrace the spirit of the Games

The Olympics should inspire the PM to be bold – and to return to the themes of the Big Society

Ian Birrell: It's not just the bad apples – it's our rotten society's attitudes

The assaults at Winterbourne View were horrific. But just as shocking were the systematic failures of one protective authority after another to stop them

Ian Birrell: More people? We should be celebrating

Ignore the misanthropes. Population growth is a sign of economic success

Ian Birrell: A £13bn boost to the economy? I don't think so

Far from generating growth, big sporting events such as the Olympic Games tend to do the very opposite

Ian Birrell: Labour's cowardice on immigration is sickening

These clunking steps are even worse from a man who makes such play out of being the child of refugees

Ian Birrell: Our national sport shares our national blindness

In Britain, we pretend the problem of racism has been defeated, despite all evidence to the contrary

Ian Birrell: Bob Geldof's obsession with aid
hurt Africa. But now trade is healing the scars

A corrosive culture of aid dependency for 30 years

has portrayed Africa as a helpless supplicant

Ian Birrell: Like Afghanistan, Mali is a victim of our 'war on terror'

Al-Qa'ida in the Maghreb is increasingly active, while even Nigeria's Islamist Boko Haram is involved

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Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning