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Even the room somewhere in Westminster where the historic meeting was to take place was kept secret until the last minute. Once “C”, Sir John Sawers, and his two colleagues arrived, the Intelligence and Security Committee chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind announced a time delay on the TV broadcast lest anything endangering national security should be said. Mysteriously, the man sitting immediately behind MI5’s Andrew Parker bore a passing resemblance to Nikita Khrushchev. We were, in short, all keyed up.

Pandora: 'Pumping party' plans for Tory conference

David Cameron has nailed his colours firmly to the middle-of-the-road mast, confessing a love for crowd-pleasing guitar band The Killers. Meanwhile, the party core's affection for Tony Hadley is already well documented (so fond are they of the paunchy crooner that they invited him to perform at last year's party conference gala dinner).

Blears bid to rebuild trust starts to show cracks

Former Communities Secretary has car window smashed while on campaign trail

Vandals attack Hazel Blears' car

Former cabinet minister Hazel Blears's car was attacked last night while she canvassed voters.

Brown fails to punish rebellion in the ranks

Defence Secretary's aide attacks 'bonkers' opposition to soldiers' compensation

Brave new world: Theatre enjoys a renaissance as state-of-the-nation dramas shine a light on modern Britain

Something strange is happening in the theatre this year. With unprecedented intensity, new plays are telling us about our lives in styles ranging from documentary socio-drama to great apocalyptic statements. Our fears are transformed into hopes in that process of joyful recognition peculiar to the experience of live theatre.

Ministers get 20-page guide to 140-character Twitter

It took a fastidious government document spanning 20 pages to inform ministers how to use Twitter, the microblogging tool with a limit of 140 characters.

Pandora: Blears to get serious with former Blair babe

Safely assured of her spot as Salford's Labour candidate, Hazel Blears appears poised for reinvention.

Simon Carr: Can we forget expenses and talk about something else?

Rules are a rotten way to regulate MPs' behaviour

McBride in frame for £22,000 school job

Gordon Brown's former media adviser, Damian McBride, is planning to take a job working for his old school.

The Great <i>IoS</i> Expenses Quiz: Have you been paying attention?

We know it's hard, as we hit Day 45 of the expenses saga, to follow it all. As a catch-up service, John Rentoul provides his guide to what has been learned last week, in the form of a GCSE multiple-choice test (answers at bottom of page)

Brown annoyed by Flint's 'window dressing' claims

Gordon Brown has admitted he was annoyed by former Europe minister Caroline Flint's barb that women were used as "window dressing" in his Cabinet.

Blears vows to 'rebuild' after foiling deselection bid

Hazel Blears welcomed "sensible discussions" with party members after she survived a deselection vote.

Blears faces wrath of party activists &ndash; but holds on to her job

Former communities secretary faces protests over expenses claims

Airport runway public inquiry delayed again

A public inquiry into whether a second runway should be built at Stansted Airport was today delayed for a second time, the Communities and Local Government Secretary revealed.

Letters: The perils of being disabled

The ups and downs (and the perils) of being disabled
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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us