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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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue