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We’ve all been there, wading through the endless phone menus, queues and scripted conversations

Sean O'Grady's Best Bets

The Independent's Economics Editor turns to money matters of another kind: how to make a mint out of the election

MP calls for sunbed ban on under-18s

Teenagers are putting their health at risk by becoming sunbed addicts, MPs heard today as a bid was launched to ban under-18s from tanning salons.

When does sexual relationship cost MP's assistant a job?

Bedroom police will be needed to check up on MPs who might be having illicit affairs with their staff if the ban on employing close relatives is to be enforced fairly, the husband of a senior Labour MP said today.

Glenys Kinnock dropped from European role

Baroness accused of failing to make an impact during four-month tenure

Simon Carr: A few signs of life still flutter as again Gordon shows how it's all done

Sketch: It's an observable fact that the further politicians drift from power the nicer they become

Take away problem children, says MP

The MP for the village where brothers aged 10 and 11 tortured two young boys called today for children in some problem homes to be removed "sooner rather than later".

Helen Wilkinson: Hillary, Harriet, and a case of giving as good as you get

Both these women challenge a political culture founded, and promoted, by men

Harman versus Mandelson: the fight for Labour's future

The spat between the Prime Minister's two most senior lieutenants has real substance, reports Jonathan Brown

Not just men in grey suits: Now it's easier for women to join Tory benches, says May

Theresa May said last night it is easier for a woman to become a Tory MP today than it was when she entered Parliament in 1997.

Steve Richards: Sour grapes and failed politicians

The criticisms that women have made of the PM are all conveniently imprecise

Brown annoyed by Flint's 'window dressing' claims

Gordon Brown has admitted he was annoyed by former Europe minister Caroline Flint's barb that women were used as "window dressing" in his Cabinet.

Harman and Beckett join the attack on struggling PM

Pressure piled on Gordon Brown as allies and former colleagues speak out

Joan Smith: Frumpy outsmarts elegant in our warped politics

It was red! It was shiny! It was short! Listening to the chorus of outrage about Caroline Flint's fashion shoot in a women's magazine, I began to wonder if the former Europe minister had posed looking as sultry as Dita von Teese. In fact, as someone sniffily pointed out, she wore chain-store clothing for the photographs, which were taken some time before she resigned, to accompany an interview about her life as a politician.

Jane Merrick: The problem with women in politics..

... is the phrase "women in politics". This tricky issue has resurfaced again, today, as Caroline Flint has tried to restore some credibility with interviews on GMTV and Woman's Hour

The dartboard coup that missed its target

Labour's rebels called it the dartboard strategy – a small circle of insurgents would target Gordon Brown in the hope that another 120 would join the game
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Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
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The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
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Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
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An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave 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
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Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
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Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
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