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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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones