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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.

Labour peer sparks new 'lords-for-hire' row

A Labour peer caught up in the "lords-for-hire" affair asked a government minister to arrange a meeting with his client, after her department rejected its controversial plans for a £400m gas storage plant.

Poorer whites feel betrayed, says report

Many white working-class communities believe their views on immigration are being ignored, while those coming into the country are given preferential access to housing and benefits.

Deborah Orr: So what if little girls like pink? They'll grow out of it eventually

Another salvo has been fired against the tyranny of pink, whereby little girls from the age of two are bombarded with products exhorting them to dress as sugary princesses. They respond, very often, by refusing all merchandise that isn't presented in some shade or another of blush.

Terence Blacker: We live in a cynical age. And technology is making it worse

We have become so used to achieving far less than we once did

John Rentoul: Mandy for deputy? Not a chance

The presence in the Cabinet of Peter Mandelson does not mark the end of the Blairite-Brownite rivalry

Major changes to planning process revealed

Proposals to save businesses and councils £300m a year by cutting red tape in the planning application process will be set out today in a review published alongside the Pre-Budget Report.

Ethnic recruitment to police drops by half in five years

As officer's name appears on list of BNP supporters, forces are hit by new claims of discrimination

Blears criticises career politicians

Britain has too many career politicians with little experience of real life, Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State for Communities, told the Hansard Society yesterday.

Steve Richards: The toxic air around Number 10

Even those who are loyal to Mr Brown are critical of the Downing Street operation

The Sketch: Forget Miliband, it's time for Harriet, bringer of a great depression

The screen was showing an anti-bullying video commissioned by Ed Balls. That made us laugh. The Mental Health Minister Ivan Lewis – himself cruelly bullied – walked across the sightline leaving the hall. A child on screen was rehearsing her catechism: "We won't take sides. We won't gossip. We won't tell you what to do." It's beyond commentary, isn't it? It would be the end of government as we know it.

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/openhouse/2008/09/does-hazel-blea.html" target="_blank">Jane Merrick: Does Hazel Blears favour a small, clean assassination?</a>

Hazel Blears came last in Labour's deputy leadership contest, so she does not exactly command wide support in the party.

The Sketch: Cheers for a leader who started to sound leaderly

It's been by far the best conference in the conference season so far. And it could easily have been the opposite. No self-dramatising security, very few commercial exhibitors, a puritan-ethic stage set, and an entirely successful launch of the new Clegg Dancing Team.

Government denies rift over economy

Gordon Brown today brushed off speculation about the future of Chancellor Alistair Darling following his warning that the economy was facing possibly the worst downturn in 60 years.

Catalogue of data blunders

The loss of a computer memory stick containing information on thousands of criminals is the latest in a series of embarrassing losses of confidential information.

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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
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
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
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
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
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform