Simon Carr

The Independent's parliamentary sketch writer and columnist since 2000, Simon Carr was described by Tony Blair as "the most vicious sketch writer working in Britain today". "Poison," said Charles Clarke. In the 1980s he helped launch The Independent, and was a speech writer for the prime minister of New Zealand from 1992 to 1994. His working principle is "Indignation keeps us young."

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The Sketch: Ed's role needs a rewrite – and recasting

A wild, warrior cry came out of the back of the chamber from the visitors' bench. Was it Meryl Streep researching her next political role? She's got Fiona Mactaggart off to a T. Looks, manner, voice like a screeching brake. "THAT'S NOT AN ANSWER!" she unleashed herself at Cameron from 50 feet, halfway through PMQs.

Sir Richard Branson gives evidence to the select committee

The Sketch: The war on drugs? There's no fight Branson can't win

He knows better than anyone the way to crush enterprise is to have them register for VAT

Simon Carr: It's transparent – the pay divide will not be bridged

Sketch: And what of Vince's plan to rein in executive pay? Transparency, exhortation and workers on the remuneration committees

He says: 'Yes, I am in a hurry. Whether it is too much, we will see.'

Michael Gove: Minister on a mission

From Bibles in schools to a new royal yacht, hardly a day seems to go by without the Education Secretary popping up with a new big idea. So what kind of a Conservative is he really?

The Sketch: An ambitious effort, but Tory leader could do with a kitten

If the main shareholder can't make a kitten out of a fatcat, how will the little-interested ones?

The Sketch: By jingo, 2012 is the year of true-blue bulldog spirit!

It's quite a Tory year coming up – what with the Queen's Jubilee, Boris's victory in the mayoral elections, Lord Coe's Olympics, the anniversary of the Falklands. Cameron seems to have lifted himself up an energy level to meet it. He's fizzing. He sometimes goes off in the wrong direction but his blast-area has doubled in size since the Opposition collapse.

The Sketch: Britain has a new supercop. Now all he needs is his mission

In a snapshot of modern policing, the new DG of the NCA (which replaces the SOCA and the NPIA) was in front of the HASC describing how the SRC would operate with the PP to interact with the PCCs.

The Sketch: Wily Salmond just loves to pick a good fight

Scots' separateness is obvious. Scottish MPs sit in a purpose-built building at blonde pine deskettes. They call each other by their first names. They clap to show approval. Horrible but it's the logical end of modernisation. Odd for a country which thrills to the memory of Bannockburn 700 years ago (the last time they won at home to the hated English).

The Sketch: Weary Miliband shows us all why nobody is taking him seriously

Everyone says it is too difficult to unseat a Labour leader. A stalking horse would be a start
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Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

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Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
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Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
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Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
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Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins