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What with being the first contestant to be voted out of the Big Brother house, not to mention facing ongoing calls to be burned at the stake by the Daily Mail, it's proved a fraught few days for Speaker's wife Sally Bercow. So, amid these troubled times, what could be more welcome than the sight of her very own knight in shining armour triumphantly emerging over the horizon with the express intention of putting Sally's numerous enemies to the sword? "Pray, who could this valiant warrior be?" I hear you ask. "Why, I think it's our favourite Estonian and glamour model-botherer Lembit 'Lancelot' Opik!" Oh! comes the admittedly deflated reply. Still, it's a bank holiday and Hugh Grant didn't have the decency to return my (numerous) calls. "There's a difference between having depth and being a celebrity," declares Lembit, himself a reality television reject of note. "Sally has something to say. I supported her decision to go on the programme. My advice to Sally would now be to pursue any libel actions." Her weary other Senor Bercow would be wise to keep the impressionable Sally away from this man's mysterious charms.

The Blagger's Guide To... The London Literature Festival

Pimm's the word at capital show's fifth-year party

Leading article: Let's hold the Tories to account

The Prime Minister is well qualified for the job in at least one important sense: he is lucky. He is lucky that Nick Clegg has absorbed most of the opprobrium directed at the coalition in its first year. From some of the press coverage recently, a Rip Van Winkle might rub his eyes and conclude that Mr Clegg was the most evil man in Britain. Yet anyone who has actually been awake during the past 12 months must know that Mr Clegg is trying to promote the values of social justice and toleration for which his party stands. As John Rentoul argues today, one may disagree with the way he has gone about it, but one should not doubt his sincerity or seriousness of purpose.

Jon Cruddas: The question is, do we trust the people?

Democracy in Britain has always grown in the face of opposition from those who say the people are not ready, that change is too dangerous.

Lib Dems: 'Corrupt system elected Thatcher'

The war of words over electoral reform flared up further today as a senior Liberal Democrat branded first-past-the-post a "corrupt" system which had allowed Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government to practise "organised wickedness" in the 1980s.

Justice Secretary warning over ECHR judgments

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has been "rather too ready to substitute its own judgment for that of national courts", the Justice Secretary said today.

<i>IoS</i> letters, emails &amp; online postings (20 March 2011)

Retirement may be leisure for a few, but for many nothing could be further from the truth ("Pensioners should pull their weight", 13 March). People are living longer, but not necessarily healthier. Each has a life-limiting persistent illness or disability for, on average, 15 years. Although those in their late sixties and seventies may wish to continue to work, they can find themselves caring round-the-clock for a family member or friend. The biggest increase in the ageing population is in the oldest old, whose own children are likely to fall into this particular age group.

Tim Montgomerie: Only long-term plans will ease short-term pain

Some opinion polls suggest Labour is now opening up a double digit lead. As the cuts bite the unpopularity will only get worse. The Tory grassroots will absorb these mid-term blues if they think David Cameron has a long-term plan for victory.

MPs throw out move to give vote to convicts at behest of Europe

The decision over whether prisoners should be entitled to vote could be handed to judges after moves to allow some offenders to take part in elections were overwhelmingly rejected by MPs.

MPs rebel over giving the vote to prisoners

Both the Conservatives and Labour are struggling to contain rebellions among their MPs over whether prisoners should get the right to vote at general elections.

The Blagger's Guide To...The London Magazine

All you need to know about the hottest literary topic of the week

Victory &ndash; but at what price?

Dateline Westminster: In the Commons, the vote is won. But outside, the tuition fee battle still rages.

Clegg concedes party is split as Tories defect too

The Liberal Democrat rebellion over university tuition fees faded last night when all the party's ministers pledged to support plans to allow universities to charge students up to £9,000 a year.

Village People: Davis makes a clean breast of it. But has he boobed?

The cosmetics firm Rodial obviously cares about its reputation, having sent a solicitors letter to Dr Dalia Nield, of the London Clinic, for expressing doubts about its product "Boob Job", a cream costing £125 a bottle, which they say can raise a woman's bust size by half a cup.

Plan to avoid Cabinet split on terror controls

Control orders could be replaced with a three-tier system of restrictions for terror suspects to avoid a Cabinet split on the issue, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation said today.



101,000 stop and searches. No terror arrests

Heavy-handed police tactics have harmed race relations, human rights groups warn
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game