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

Purnell quits and tells PM to stand aside

Gordon Brown suffered another crippling blow last night when the Blairite Work and Pensions Secretary, James Purnell, resigned from the Government.

Fateful encounter that could seal Brown's fate

To lose one cabinet minister is bad luck. To lose two – within 24 hours – is the sort of carelessness that could finish off Gordon Brown's leadership.

The Sketch: The front bench just sat there like sacks containing the remains of the Government

A "great groan" went up from the crowd when the king of England was beheaded in Whitehall. The Labour Party doesn't understand the need for groaning practice. My word, they are going to be harrowed by what comes next. They are going to be turned over and exposed to the crows. If they think it's bad now it's only because they haven't understood the utterly preoccupying 10-year grieving process for regicides.

No 10 defends ministers over tax advice claims

Downing Street today moved to defend ministers under fire for claiming for tax advice on their parliamentary expenses.

Playing the system: Loopholes used to avoid tax

Jane Merrick and Brian Brady report on the ways politicians have maximised their allowances for houses

Labour rocked by expenses revelations

Brown, Mandelson, Straw and Blears highlighted in embarrassing leak

Please look after our Turners, Mr Wen

The Government has pledged millions to underwrite an exhibition of the artist's work in Beijing

When will they learn? The pap who tried to tip off his victims

Emily Dugan talks to photographer Steve Back, who foresaw a Bob Quick-style scandal

Letters: Police treatment of climate campers

How we rescued our daughter from the police

John Rentoul: Caroline Flint, a fast reader

This morning Iain Dale, the Conservative blogger, reproduced a handout from Mark Francois, the shadow Europe minister, which claimed that Caroline Flint, the actual Europe minister, said she had not read the Lisbon Treaty.

Minister tells unions to stop boosting the BNP

Labour officials fear rise of far-right in North-west, Yorkshire and Humber regions

You can go and work in Europe, Mandelson tells strikers

Unions furious as ministers take aim at Britain's wildcat protesters

Intervening to prop up pound is 'recipe for failure', says Brown

PM expected to admit today that he should have been tougher with 'freewheeling bankers'

John Rentoul: We all throw a tantrum once in a while

The people are revolting and they don't care about the small print. Jobs are going – and they're going to others

Mary Dejevsky: Firework fun alongside the orange-jackets

The new year firework display in London was the best I can remember. The shapes, the colours, the luminous reflections in the river put us right up there with Sydney, Athens and Edinburgh – if international competition is how you judge these things. Mayor Boris did everyone a favour with his upbeat message, projected on to City Hall. Thank goodness someone in charge is looking on the bright side.

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The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

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Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

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Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

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