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Revelling in the latest growth figures, George Osborne lifted Balls-baiting to a new plane. He was asked an unusually long list of super-friendly questions by euphoric Tory backbenchers. Ones that in the secret dreams of the MPs involved, invite the answer: “Yes. My honourable friend has absolutely hit the nail on the head with that spiffing question correctly mentioning our long-term economic plan, allowing me to lay into the Opposition, and qualifying him for early promotion.”

A political life: Christmas at Westminster, when party politics give way to plain old parties

It's important for politicians to project an image of bonhomie

James Moore: Chancellor won’t get hammered in auction

It's a risky thing to set a target price for an auction as the Government has done with the sale of bandwidth for 4G mobile phone broadband services.

Jack Straw: Served 13 years in the Cabinet and has an ear for an anecdote

IoS Books of the Year 2012: Politics

This year was a long time in politics

David Cameron in favour of change to TV election debates

PM told a Westminster lunch he was in favour of the debates in principle, but felt that in 2010 they sucked the life out of the rest of the campaign

How C. difficile caused a seismic shift in health policy

The arrival of a virulent new strain of Clostridium difficile in Britain in the early 2000s caused a medical and political firestorm, led to hundreds of deaths and claimed the scalps of several NHS trust chief executives.

Ed Balls explains his economic plans

The way Ed Balls's stutter was treated in the Commons points to a familiar compassion deficit

This behaviour shames the home of our democracy

History suggests Mark Carney's real test may come with a new government

At the start the new Governor will have Number 10 on side, writes Sean O’Grady

James Moore: Ease off from cuts and let the economy breathe

Outlook It's not only his Banking Commission that's causing Mr Osborne an unexpected migraine. Yesterday's public sector borrowing figures added weight to the view that he's more likely to persuade members of the commission to lie down and have their tummies tickled than he is to meet his public sector borrowing targets.

Business week in review

In profit...

Government's migration cap is a 'big barrier to growth', says Lord O’Donnell

The Government’s migration cap is a “big barrier to growth”, Britain’s former top civil servant has said.

Tony Blair is thought to have long coveted a senior role in European politics and failed to secure the EU presidency in 2009

Tony Blair urges EU to elect a president (so who could be in contention?)

Former PM puts case for job he is said to have wanted in the past

Don't mention green shoots! Figures will show recession is over but ministers told not to get ahead of themselves

Ministers have been ordered not to refer to "green shoots" tomorrow when they respond to official figures showing that Britain has emerged from its double-dip recession.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in a tackle at a football match between Labour MPs and journalists in Salford

Ed Balls takes to the stage with plan to kickstart economy

Shadow Chancellor wants 100,000 new homes using 4G windfall

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in a tackle at a football match between Labour MPs and journalists in Salford

Ed Balls unveils plan for growth: build 100,000 affordable homes

Labour will today propose a £2.5bn plan to build 100,000 homes in order to kick-start the economy, arguing that the move should take priority over paying off the deficit.

WPP's return to UK a boost for Osborne

The advertising giant WPP has confirmed it is moving its tax base from Ireland back to the UK in a long-awaited decision that will be a boost for the Chancellor, George Osborne.

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Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks