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

The Sketch: As Miliband spoke, I wanted to chuck things

It's not really cricket to say that the whole thing's a waste of time; we're supposed to look at it quietly and work out whether it works on its own terms. But Foreign Office questions is a complete waste of time and it's not just because of the Foreign Secretary.

'Council homes for life' under threat

Council tenants could lose their right to a home for life under reforms being considered to cut waiting lists, it emerged today.

Mandelson in shock return to Government

Peter Mandelson's shock return to the Cabinet was officially confirmed by Downing Street today, shortly after he described his latest comeback as "third time lucky".

Speculation grows over Cabinet reshuffle

The news that Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly is to quit the Cabinet will spark a fresh bout of feverish reshuffle speculation.

David Prosser's Outlook: Help now for hard-up homeowners facing a bruising battle with the bailiffs

What's to be done about the worrying trend of increasing home repossessions? Mortgage lenders were quick yesterday to point out that a 24 per cent rise in repossession orders does not necessarily mean all those people will leave their homes – a good proportion will resolve their cases before it comes to that. But thereis mounting evidence that repossession is becoming a really big problem once again.

Homes at repossession risk up by quarter

The number of homeowners at risk of losing their homes has risen by nearly a quarter in the past year, figures showed today.

James Macintyre: How the Government spun itself into another mess

It began on Monday as a piece of diversionary spin that by the end of the week had backfired spectacularly and created a fresh crisis in an already turbulent housing market.

Leading article: Mr Darling is making a bad housing situation worse

Even by the devalued standards of this Government, it has been a week of dizzying incompetence. The Brown era, the "age of change", was supposed to be one of less spin. What we are witnessing is an age of less effective spin. Indeed, spin that has had a worryingly real and costly impact on people's lives. The stamp duty saga has been a perfect example of the failure of news management across government. It was never going to be a good idea to leak a market-sensitive move such as a suspension of stamp duty, and so it has proved. No doubt the motives were mixed, a wish to be seen to be doing something, anything, for hard-pressed first-time buyers, happily coinciding with the baser motive of wanting to distract attention from the leadership potential of David Miliband.

Repossession levels soar to 12-year high

With the housing market heading for its worst crash since the 1990s, and amid more ministerial confusion about a "stamp duty holiday", the Council of Mortgage Lenders reported yesterday that the number of people losing their homes has risen to a 12-year high.

Brown plans cabinet reshuffle as ministers told to cut short holiday

Gordon Brown is planning to reshuffle the Cabinet in the first week of September in an attempt to re-assert his authority over his divided government.

David Prosser's Outlook: The Government was right on house prices: they're falling even faster than we thought

When Caroline Flint, the Housing minister, wandered into a meeting with her briefing notes visible to photographers, most of the attention focused on her embarrassment and the fact that the Government was now planning on the basis house prices would fall this year. But the depth of Ms Flint's gloom attracted less comment.

Caroline Flint: You Ask The Questions

The Housing Minister answers your questions, such as 'Will house prices fall by 10 per cent?' and 'Who's Westminster's sexiest man?'

Terence Blacker: Let's take a look at life in our own backyard

Fewer picture of polar bears are needed, and more of bees and dragonflies

Editor-At-Large: Eco-towns are just vandalism dressed up in a trendy green coat

Who wants new communities when thousands of existing houses stand empty? Even builders agree – government plans are potty

Julian Knight: The road to housing hell is littered with good intentions

I am a techno clot but still love digital cameras. You can take snaps anywhere you like and then it's a cinch (even for me) to download them on to a laptop, blow them up and email them to all and sundry.

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Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

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Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

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