Book Review: Live from Downing Street, By Nick Robinson

Robinson splits his book into a history of politics and the media, from the “graphic and brutal caricatures” that Walpole had to fear, to the 14-day rule during the Second World War, and a personal account of his own part in how the news comes to us, as a political editor with the BBC.

Andy McSmith's Diary: The disgraced peer and his negligible £3,000 a month

Last month I noted that Lord Hanningfield, the former Tory leader of Essex Council, has edged a step further towards being an active member of the House of Lords by tabling a written question, his first since he appeared in court charged with fiddling his expenses in February 2010. This follows the tentative first step he took last month, by saying something during a committee meeting. He still has not contributed anything to any debate in the main House of Lords chamber.

British Army soldiers in Basra, southern Iraq, 2004

Transatlantic exchanges that helped take the West to war

In Sir John Chilcot’s diplomatic shorthand, they are the “difficult documents”. For the rest of us – those looking to brand Tony Blair and George Bush as war criminals, or those who believe the pair saved Iraq from the excesses of Saddam and the world from a potential WMD catastrophe – they are the communications that will reveal how close Washington and Whitehall were in the run-up to the 2003 war.

To Daily Mail opponents, one response remains

Paul Dacre dismissed those who marched on the Daily Mail's offices as “just 110 people”  - yet I would argue this is a reasonably significant body of people

Enemies of the the Daily Mail discover new strength in numbers

In standing up for his father’s reputation, Ed Miliband has set a new tone in relations between public figures and the most aggressive elements of the press.

Tory Conference Diary: When Boris Johnson gets a standing ovation, it’s because the party faithful actually mean it

The measure of Boris Johnson’s popularity among the Tory faithful is not that he gets a standing ovation at the start and finish of every speech – they do that for George Osborne too, out of respect – it is the way they scream as they applaud. He is the only politician who makes Tory activists behave like pubescent girls at a rock concert.

Labour Party Conference Diary: Is the party really so strapped for cash it needs Philip Morris's tobacco cash?

The Labour Party’s finances are perennially in a bad way and are fated to get worse as Ed Miliband alters the rules for union affiliation. The latest set of accounts shows that in 2012, the party did at least manage to live within its means. Income exceeded expenditure by £2.8 million, but was with trade unions affiliating to the tune of almost £8 million. How much of that will still come in when the party is collecting directly from union members rather than through their subs, we have yet to find out. Also, the party has debts exceeding £13 million, mainly a hangover from the last general election, a figure almost equal to its entire assets.

Labour leader Ed Miliband; former minister Chris Mullin

Ed Miliband urged to bring back ‘grown-ups’ to Labour front bench

Move could help counter claims made by ministers that economic crisis was caused by previous Labour government

Andy McSmith's Diary: Low-paid Commons staff a redemptive cause for Jim Sheridan

The Labour MP Jim Sheridan made a monumental ass of himself over press regulation, when he suggested that Parliament amend the decision made in 1803 to allow journalists onto the premises, to exclude those he does not like. However, to give the man credit, he is battling valiantly on behalf of Parliament's low paid staff, who are having their working week lengthened and their overtime and anti social hours payments cut.

Rupert Murdoch is under increasing pressure from campaigners to drop the Page 3 feature,which started in 1970

Is Rupert Murdoch about to cover up his Page 3 girls for good?

News Corp chief admits criticism that  feature is ‘so last century’ may be right

Poll: what was your favourite Twitter spat of 2012?

As Twitter releases a tranche of data looking at the trends and top tweets of the year, we've got an alternative list. What was your favourite spat?

Waking up to the real differences between Britain and America

Their politics is grander than ours, but also far more prone to fantasy and extremism

The Coalition’s £235m wages are robbery down on the farm

Our diarist notes that the minimum wage is a recent innovation; notes the value of family connections ahead of award ceremonies; and offers a spinning corrective

An Kum-Ae has a nibble on the gold medal that she won on the Judo floor

London 2012: North Korea provide early shock of the Olympic Games with growing medal haul

Even the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un doesn’t need to propagandise this one.

The former PM is said to be eager to return to domestic politics

Demonstrators disrupt Blair's comeback plan

Former PM forced to cancel address to Labour activists in London

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape