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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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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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