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.

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.

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.

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

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

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'

You can go and work in Europe, Mandelson tells strikers

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

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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Minoan Crete and Santorini
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General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
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Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
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11 best anti-ageing day creams

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Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants