Voices

Both sides know that the top rate of income tax is mainly symbolic

David Prosser: Plan B is simply a slower Plan A

Outlook One of the mantras of George Osborne in insisting on seeing through his deficit reduction plan is that it commands enormous support internationally. Well, it has not been the best 48 hours for that argument. First the President of the United States pointedly turned down the invitation to publicly endorse the Chancellor's economic experiment. Then the OECD – hardly known for its wishy-washy liberal views on borrowing – suggested Mr Osborne might have no choice but to slow down.

Cable warns of 'painful' squeeze

Politicians have failed to prepare the public for the scale of the impending squeeze on living standards, Business Secretary Vince Cable has admitted.

Julian Knight: Don't let's get nostalgic for 1981 and all that

At big moments it's not unusual to get a little nostalgic and look for parallels with the past.

The Sketch: Irritating Eds finally succeed in upsetting Cameron's composure

That may be the end of the PM's lordly ease at the dispatch box. It was a lovely act while it lasted. Week by week we had an exhibition from another era as Cameron showed us the upper-class skill of manners being the art of making other people feel uncomfortable.

Video: Balls: Tax changes 'hurt everybody'

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says that taxpayers will be in for a shock when they get their next payslip.

Village People: UK shows how much it values citizens

William Hague endured heavy criticism when the Foreign Office was slow to lay on aircraft to take British citizens out of Libya, so he must be keen that the costs of other airlifts out of crisis zones are not subjected to too much scrutiny.

Video: Ed Balls on the Budget

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says the Budget will hurt families and fuel prices will rise with VAT.

The Sketch: An economy of ideas can't keep Balls out of the political game

The media game these days is to take Ed Balls seriously, and respectfully report his economic ideas. It's harder to keep a straight face as time goes on, but the interviewers don't care – they're doing it to destabilise his struggling leader, Ed Miliband.

Dominic Lawson: The public spending 'massacre' is a lie

Why should it be seen as 'anti-growth' to divert money from the civil servant to the shopkeeper?

Ed Balls: Osborne must change tack and steer towards growth

With the world in turmoil, global oil prices surging and the British economy faltering there is still time for George Osborne to pause before the Budget and ask himself: "Am I getting this right?"

Cameron defends arms sales in push for growth

David Cameron declared yesterday that enterprise was morally right and defended his controversial campaign to sell British-made arms to regimes around the world with poor records on democracy and human rights.

Ed Balls calls for petrol VAT abolition

Ed Balls has called on the Government to reverse soaring fuel prices by abolishing the recent VAT rise in petrol.

The Sketch: IDS takes the lid off social reform as Dave flatters the feckless

It probably wasn't solely to annoy Polly that they held their poverty presser in Toynbee Hall but it must have been an incidental pleasure. Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron announced the Tory welfare plan in that Edwardian palace of civic goodwill and self-improvement. I'm not sneering at either mind you, that's a trick you find on the professional left. But the venue was iconic, and part of the message-sending thing they enjoy doing – like Ed Balls eating the Kleinwort Benson canapes.

Miliband shows he's a control freak too

Ed Miliband may have ditched the New Labour label but he is finding it harder to drop the control-freak tendency which was admired and then discredited during the Blair/Brown era.

Simon Carr: How we long to believe that our leaders know what's actually going on

Sketch: The state's apparatus is so enormous and so intricately regulated no one can describe it all
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Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
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A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

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The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border