When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies, By Andy Beckett

With his much-praised debut, Pinochet in Piccadilly, Andy Beckett proved himself an adept practitioner of the miniaturist's art. When the Lights Went Out finds him taking a few steps further back into the recent past, and contemplating a far larger canvas. The question is, which palette will he employ: the familiar DayGlo indulgences of British non- fiction's personalised, post-Hornby orthodoxy (wherein the author purports to provide an insight into broader social conditions by anatomising his youthful fondness for Bruce Springsteen, or the evolution of his relationship with a favourite space hopper), or the less eye-catching but ultimately more satisfying paintbox of real intellectual inquiry?

Forgiven: The belated rehabilitation of Jeremy Thorpe

As the Lib Dems prepare to mark the ex-leader's 80th birthday, David Randall recalls his bizarre fall

Andrew Rowe: Europhile MP who served as aide to Edward Heath

Andrew Rowe was an intelligent and independent-minded Conservative who represented Mid Kent in Parliament from 1983 to 1987 and then fought and won the newly created and much more marginal seat of Faversham and Mid Kent despite the Labour landslide in 1997. He belonged to One Nation, The Tory Reform Group and Conservative Mainstream and found himself even more out of tune with William Hague’s Conservative Party than he had been with Margaret Thatcher’s. The nearest he came to office was his period as a PPS, first to Richard Needham from 1992-94, and then to Earl Ferrers (1994-95). A staunch Europhile, he had earlier acted as Edward Heath’s parliamentary aide (1984-87).

Lord Sandford: Naval officer who took holy orders and served as a whip at Westminster

Commander The Reverend John Cyril Edmondson DSC, 2nd Baron Sandford, was, as his style and title implies, a man of many parts. Following a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, he took holy orders, and then, on succeeding to his father’s title in 1959, he took the Conservative whip in the House of Lords, serving as a junior minister in Edward Heath’s government from 1970 to 1974. Subsequently he devoted his life to a wide range of causes including local government, the Church, education, conservation and heritage.

Clarke delighted at return to Tory frontline

Former chancellor Ken Clarke expressed "delight" at returning to frontline politics today - and insisted he would not rock the boat over Europe.

Brown bounces back

‘Independent’ poll reveals Tory lead slashed to just eight points – which would lead to a hung parliament in an election

The Paradise Trail, By Duncan Campbell

Hippy dreams crumble into nightmare in this lively, well-researched novel. On the day of his finals in economics, Anand discovers that he has inherited the Lux Hotel in Calcutta, and, happy to forego Edward Heath's England – atmospherically evoked – he fantasises about transforming it into a utopia for literary types. But his grand plans don't add up, as he returns to an India poised on the brink of war.

Owen Parker: Edward Heath's sailing master

Owen Parker, best known as Sir Edward Heath's sailing master, was one of the best-known yachtsmen of his generation and managed all of Heath's Morning Cloud yachts and their crews.

Gareth Malone: Note perfect

He’s the nation’s favourite singing teacher. Women love him. Gay men adore him. And his efforts to turn reluctant state-school pupils into convincing choristers have made him the BBC’s latest – and most unexpected – star. But where exactly did Gareth Malone spring from? And what on earth will he make of our intrepid interviewer's, er... 'voice'?

MP loses Tory whip over payments to sons

The political career of Derek Conway, the senior Tory MP accused of overpaying two sons he employed as Commons researchers, is in ruins after David Cameron withdrew the party whip from him.

Blair's pay packet: How the cash keeps rolling in

The news that Tony Blair had signed up to be an adviser to the Wall Street bank JP Morgan was received in some quarters with the equanimity you would expect. "Blair's $1m-a-year payback for Iraq – anger as ex-PM takes part-time job with bank making millions from war" ran Friday's Daily Mail. The odious comparison industry sprang into action, contrasting Blair with other former prime ministers, some of whom had not hitherto been noted for their asceticism. Lady Thatcher, Sir Harold Wilson and Sir Edward Heath were all rolled out as paragons of probity in retirement.

End of era as US firm buys Marconi rump

More than a century of proud British history in the telecommunications industry is about to come to an end. The company formerly known as Marconi has agreed to sell what remains of the business to a US private equity group.

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From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

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