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1. "The BBC is generally as pogonophobic as the late-lamented Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha."

e) Jeremy Paxman

Siobhan Benita, an independent candidate running for the post of the Mayor of London

Mary Ann Sieghart: We need more independents to break the parties' stranglehold

Fed up with all three main parties? Fancy a bold, clever, sensible independent candidate to represent your city? That's what Londoners are being offered on Thursday, but the political and media establishments are doing their best to crush her. We have a 20th-century political system failing to cope with 21st-century politics.

'Good at the gags': Boris Johnson

Diary: Boris is having the last laugh in Mayoral race

David Cameron is running the risk of making himself more enemies on the Tory right than he needs. He caused considerable offence yesterday when he told Douglas Carswell – a popular MP despite his near-anarchist opposition to big government – to get a sense of humour. Carswell's offence was to ask a question which implied that ministers were letting themselves be run by the civil service. He later said: "I can do gags, but I reckon most people voted for me because they want change, not a comedian."

Margaret Thatcher became the first female British Prime Minister at the end of the seventies

Amol Rajan: The Thatcher home dream has become a nightmare

There was crude electoral logic as well as moral force in Margaret Thatcher's pursuit of a "property-owning democracy". The phrase was, in fact, coined by Noel Skelton, a Tory MP of the interwar years. He felt, as Thatcher did decades later, that pride in home-ownership would infuse the working-class with conservative values, so deterring them from socialism.

Benita could have been one of Whitehall's youngest mandarins but quit her civil service job to run for mayor

Steve Richards: The false allure of mavericks like Siobhan Benita and George Galloway

Smaller parties and Independents are part of an anti-politics culture - not the solution to it

Simon Carr: The recess was over – and the Commons returned with a roar

The Sketch: What's this? George Galloway promising to bear true allegiance to her Majesty the Queen?

Leading article: The centre cannot hold

A significant change has occurred since the Budget. From the undeclared granny tax, to the silliness over pasties, to the unnecessary panic over petrol, no single one of the Government's stumbles was momentous in itself. Taken together, however, they have for the first time raised questions as to the competence rather than the politics of the Conservative leadership.

Junior environment Minister, Richard Benyon

Diary: Millionaire MP's hosepipe mystery will run and run

When the public are being subjected to an inconvenience like a hosepipe ban, there is nothing to beat a tabloid story proving that there is one law for ministers another for the rest of us. So one can imagine the delight in the news room of The People when their reporter returned from a visit to Englefield House, the £125m, 20,000-acre spread that is home to the Tory MP and junior environment Minister, Richard Benyon, having seen water gushing from a garden hose.

Ed Miliband was set to speak to health professionals and union activists at a planned protest against NHS reforms in Hull

Labour would govern for the whole country says Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband said Labour would govern for the whole country "not just for the wealthy few" as he launched Labour's English local elections campaign.

Flying in the polls: the latest figures put Jean-Luc Mélenchon third

Surprise surge for hard left could scramble French election results

Three weeks from the first round of voting, a surge in support for the hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon threatens to scramble forecasts for the French presidential elections.

Harriet Walker: Wanna be an MP? Pretend to be a cat

Tales from the water cooler: That Galloway triumphed is a strange and unsettling thing, seeing as he is completely bonkers
He says: 'By the grace of God we have won the most sensational victory in British political history.'

George Galloway: The political rebel with a cause

Indefatigable in the pursuit of his causes, formidable in taking on his many opponents, he has ridden the political roller coaster for 25 years. And now he’s back as an MP after a sensational by-election victory

Labour attempts to pick up pieces after shock Galloway victory

Ed Miliband today vowed that the Labour Party would ‘learn lessons’ from its shock defeat to Respect in the Bradford West by-election, while shadow chancellor Ed Balls defended his leader against criticisms in the wake of the result.

Zelda Curtis: Activist who championed the rights of the elderly

Zelda Curtis was no follower of fashion.

Coogan: 'Neither the police nor the Government were willing to hold those responsible accountable for unlawful acts'

Coogan: Determined to show depths press can sink

Steve Coogan and Paul Gascoigne are among the latest people to have settled claims for damages over phone-hacking, the High Court has heard.

Howard Jacobson: A question neither I – nor anyone – could answer

It was impossible not to think you were never more than the thickness of one person’s skin away from torment

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
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Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
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Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

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Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride