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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.

The Sketch: People as tired as Gordon Brown are usually in hospital

"I shall further have meetings today," the PM said and sat down on Jim Murphy.

Letters: Aid for Afghanistan

Aid millions for Afghanistan end up back in the US

Milburn tells PM: Don't betray Blair

Former health secretary warns party against lurching to the left

Mark Steel: It's almost heartbreaking – these people are so clueless

You can imagine Ed Balls crying out: ‘Let’s get Harriet on Britain’s Got Talent

Brown in bid to get back on front foot

PM to unveil new powers for parents as Labour rushes to condemn Blears

Simon Carr: Brown is in his bunker, with a final, inevitable crisis to come

The PM is divorced from reality. He can no longer see for himself

Cabinet 'rivals' rally to Brown's defence

Senior cabinet figures were desperately rallying around Gordon Brown yesterday, with the two men tipped as favourites to succeed Mr Brown moving to quash rumours that he could be replaced before the next election.

Blears: PM's failure to connect with voters is 'lamentable'

Cabinet minister appears to court the sack with scathing article on Gordon Brown's faltering premiership

MPs will get daily rate for 'clocking-in' at Commons

Brown's plan to replace second-home allowance runs into controversy

When will they learn? The pap who tried to tip off his victims

Emily Dugan talks to photographer Steve Back, who foresaw a Bob Quick-style scandal

Taxpayers pick up tab for inflation-busting expenses

Prime Minister urges speedy review and freezes ministers' pay as inquiry launched after details of Jacqui Smith's claims released

Government shuns Muslim Council over link with Hamas

The Government has severed relations with the country's leading Muslim organisation, saying a senior member is a supporter of Hamas, the Palestinian military organisation.

Labour's secret weapon: A revealing audience with Hazel Blears

She's the 'Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep-Cheep' of the Commons, the ballroom-dancing, motorcycle-riding MP for Salford, and an unabashed fan of New Labour. But does Hazel Blears have what it takes to lead her party? Andy McSmith met her

Cabinet infighting ‘angering Labour activists’

Labour is heading for opposition unless cabinet ministers stop manoeuvring for position, the party’s general election co-ordinator warned last night.

Hazel Blears: You ask the questions

Is this the worst recession for 100 years? And what motorbike should I buy?
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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