Jane Merrick

Jane Merrick is Political Editor of The Independent on Sunday.

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“If you count having a “small orchard in the garden”: the four apple trees, one quince and a mirabelle plum down my allotment”

My orchard, and other aspirations: I will only have 'made it' when I really do own one in my back garden

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated my 41st birthday. When I say "celebrated", I mean it happened but was slightly overshadowed by two household dramas: the first, my daughter was sick from 3am until 5pm; the second was that our fridge broke down. I felt sorry for my daughter, of course, but also for myself. As I was standing in our kitchen, water flooding from the defrosting freezer, and me wailing that I wasn't actually having a very good birthday, my Dad said to me: "Of course, in our house we didn't have a fridge until I was 12."

Forecasts threaten to undermine George Osborne’s ‘welfare cap’

Delays add £2bn to the cost of Chancellor's planned benefits bill

Labour claims the problems are another example of 'Tory welfare waste'
According to Francis Maude, tech start-ups in Silicon Valley thrive on a “fail fast” motto that helps them learn quickly from their mistakes and go on to achieve success

Failure – a target that Whitehall can actually hit

Embrace defeat and learn from past mistakes; it's the best way to boost innovation, says minister
Ed Miliband: ‘Tackling climate change is the most important thing I can do’

Ed Miliband lambasts PM for 'ignoring advice on climate change'

Exclusive: David Cameron accused of lack of principle and abandoning 'the most important issue' - because it is unfashionable
Signs of the times: home ownership is at its lowest level for 30 years

Coaliton's NewBuy housing scheme is a 95 per cent failure, official figures reveal

The plan aimed to rebalance the property market, by stimulating prices outside London and the South East, and contribute to economic growth
Labour’s Chuka Umunna has the backing of Tony Blair to be the next Labour leader

Tony Blair wants Chuka Umunna to be the next Labour leader

Former PM is backing shadow Business Secretary for top job if Ed Miliband fails to win general election
The health watchdog Nice has ruled that births at home, or at a midwife-led unit, are safer than at hospital

Despite the latest advice on where to give birth, the ordeal I went through shows why hospital is still the best option

I cannot imagine what would have happened if I had stayed at home

Sir Bill Cash says a formal deal between the Tories and Ukip is unlikely

Eurosceptic claims 200 Tory MPs now favour a British exit from EU

Sir Bill Cash calls for nation to take 'associate status' – and no longer wants pact with Ukip
Andrew Mitchell, one of the earliest Tory MPs to use a bike, inspires both loyalty and loathing

Andrew Mitchell had form: The pattern of abuse heard in the High Court was shocking

If Mitchell's outburst at PC Rowland had been a one-off, it might have been forgivable

French former First Lady Valerie Trierweiler is at a book signing of her book, 'Thank You For This Moment: A Story Of Love, Power And Betrayal'.

Thank You for this Moment by Valerie Trierweiler, book review: A long and painful break-up letter

It is impossible not to feel desperately sorry for France's former First Lady

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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own