Diary: The paper with teeth

* The News of the World seemed both inspired and confused on the octogenarian dental front. The paper collects Headline of the Week for "Gum And Get It", and Backhanded Compliment of the Decade for this contradictory reference: "Sheila, who looks a lot younger than she is and still has nearly all her own teeth ..." Genius.

Amy Jenkins: Any writing can sound awful if you read it aloud in a silly voice

So Alastair Campbell is worse at sex than Tony Blair – worse at writing about it, that is. The Literary Review has published this year's shortlist for the Bad Sex Award and Blair hasn't made it to the final eight.

The Sketch: With Clegg sidelined, Dave sees off Harriet with genuine warmth

With Edwina Miliband at home on new-baby duties, we expected a battle of the deputies for PMQs. But after last week's gruelling encounter on tuition fees, Nick Clegg was stood down to recuperate and the Prime Minister faced up to Harriet himself.

Sir George Young defends Tory vanity staff on public payroll

A Cabinet minister today defended the practice of putting some Conservative Party officials and aides on the public payroll.

Sales soar as talking books mark 75 years

What began as a public service for blinded First World War veterans is now a major publishing success story

BBC's Nick Robinson 'not ashamed' after stamping on protester's sign

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said he was "not remotely ashamed" after being filmed stamping on an anti-war protester's sign.

Happy returns to No 10 for Thatcher's 85th birthday

Lord Heseltine is not on the list. John Major is out of the country, and Nick Clegg has "another engagement". But Lord Howe, whose resignation speech ended Margaret Thatcher's reign in Downing Street, will today be a guest of honour at the former prime minister's 85th birthday party in Downing Street.

Blair 'to do God' in debate with Hitchens

Since one of them is one of most self-publicised atheists in the Western world and the other is arguably the most famous living convert to the Roman Catholic Church, there may not be much of a meeting of minds. Yet Tony Blair has agreed to share a platform with the British-born journalist, Christopher Hitchens, to argue over whether religion is a good thing generally, or not.

DVD & Blu-ray reviews

John Rentoul: Blair's gift to Cameron – a leader's guide

New Labour's belated recognition of the gap between saying and doing will come in handy for his successor at No 10

Inside Politics - Blair Quiz Answers

1 The Freedom of Information Act

School that refused to become academy is most improved

It was probably the kind of place that Alastair Campbell had in mind when he referred to "bog standard comprehensive schools". Yet Perry Beeches school in Birmingham has shaken off all attempts to turn it into an academy, and has now become the most improved school in the history of exam results.

Mandelson tops MPs' summer reading list

Books about the New Labour government feature highly in MPs' summer reading lists ahead of the publication of former prime minister Tony Blair's hotly anticipated memoirs, a survey revealed today.

Image makers have planned every last detail of Tony Blair book launch

Three years after he left office, the image makers are still working overtime on Tony Blair.

Donald Macintyre: The pitfalls of the Westminster memoir

Political history
Career Services

Day In a Page

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
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there