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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.

Letters: The perils of being disabled

The ups and downs (and the perils) of being disabled

Editor-At-Large: Hard-up mums need to work, but kids pay dearly

Cameron Diaz says the planet is over-populated, and there's too much pressure on women to have children. She's right: I've managed four ex-husbands, a long-suffering partner, no kids and no pets, but deep down, I've always felt I made a selfish choice. My reasons, though, were very different from hers. There was never any question of having a family and a career when I started out, so I made a tough decision. I would never have got this far if I'd decided to breed, taken time off, and tried to combine motherhood with long hours.

Blears says 'sorry' for firestorm

Former Communities Secretary faces vote of no confidence in Salford constituency

Blears faces censure despite walkout apology

Hazel Blears apologised today for the timing of her Cabinet walkout as she faced a battle to hang on to her seat.

The dartboard coup that missed its target

Labour's rebels called it the dartboard strategy – a small circle of insurgents would target Gordon Brown in the hope that another 120 would join the game

Simon Carr: True lies... a masterclass in the art of interview

The Sketch: Why aren't people rallying to Peter Mandelson as next leader of the Labour Party?

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: These women fled the battlefield

Is it sexist to accuse Flint of liking to use her stilettos? Yes – but she asks for it

James Delingpole: Revenge - A dish best left to go mouldy at the back of the fridge

Hazel Blears got her own back, but the euphoria won't last

Sarah Sands: A two-minute video is all the truth I need

The publisher Caroline Michel explained the new business model to me over lunch last week. The important thing to grasp was that a book was no longer the starting point. These days the deal could begin with something as instant as a video clip. The video clip could lead to a book. The book could lead to a film.

Joan Smith: We don't do female sacrifice any more, Prime Minister

It was a bloodbath. Last week, like a wounded warrior trying to appease vengeful gods, Gordon Brown sacrificed one woman after another in a desperate attempt to save his own skin. By Friday evening, the stench of burning female flesh rose over Westminster as Margaret Beckett and Caroline Flint were added to the pyre, joining Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears and Beverley Hughes. The cull was drastic, reducing the number of women in the Cabinet from eight, when Tony Blair left office two years ago, to a feeble four. There are now more peers (seven) than women round the cabinet table and Brown need lose only one more to be in the same position as John Major in 1997. So much for a Prime Minister who portrays himself, morning, noon and night, as a politician committed to fairness and equal rights. I mean, pull the other one, mate.

Battle for survival at No 10: Mandelson key to defeat of rebels

Business Secretary repays 15-year debt as he orchestrates the fightback, with Tony Blair also riding to the rescue. Brian Brady and Jane Merrick report

Beasts vs Belles: Sugar's arrival adds to women ex-ministers' complaints

He has just been given a peerage by Gordon Brown and came to the rescue of the Government in his new role as "enterprise tsar". And tonight, he will select his new apprentice from an all-woman final.

Howard Jacobson: There is nobility in opting out, in refusing what the world is offering

It’s why I admire J D Salinger from whom nobody’s heard aword for decades

Leading article: A reshuffle that betrays the Prime Minister's weakness

Mr Brown will not be able to restore his authority by willpower alone

Brown moves deckchairs around his Cabinet table

Blairites promoted to fill the gaps left by political soulmates / Jowell and Cooper move up as PM tries to answer female critics
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