News Iain Duncan Smith blamed civil servants for not giving him the full picture of teething problems of universal credit

Iain Duncan Smith has suggested being on benefits is a form of slavery and he is like abolitionist William Wilberforce through his introduction of welfare reforms.

Nick Clegg: 'Voices of riot victims will be heard'

The Government is to establish an independent panel to give victims of the riots a chance to "have their voice heard", Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today.

Diary: On the level... Gwyneth's bare essentials

Cook, actor and Earth Mother Gwyneth Paltrow has graced Elle Décor magazine with her list of the "things she can't live without". Cannot. Live. Without. Given that this is an interior design publication, you might imagine Ms Paltrow's selection would be superficial, not spiritual. But you'd be wrong. Granted, it's true that she "can't live without" her De Gournay hand-painted wallpaper, her Charles Edwards star lanterns and the Antonio Lupi Baia bathtub in her bedroom (yes, bedroom). But among her favourite things is also her Juxtaposition Religion Shelf, a shelf with slots of varying depths to hold the Koran, Bible, Tao Te Ching et al, "all at the same level", she explains, "which is how I like to think about religion."

Today's tots could 'live to be 120'

Babies born today could eventually spend half of their lives in retirement, ministers are expected to claim this week, as they set out the need for reform of the pension system.

Leading article: A Labour leader is born

This time last week we reported that, nine months after becoming leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband had so dismally failed to make his mark that Iain Duncan Smith's leadership of the Conservative Party was looking good by comparison. What a difference seven days make.

Boris Johnson is Tory activists' favourite to succeed Cameron

Boris Johnson is the favourite among Conservative grassroots activists to succeed David Cameron as party leader, a survey has found.

Leading article: A mountain still to climb for Miliband

This newspaper's poll of polls today provides uncomfortable reading for Ed Miliband – he is in danger of making Iain Duncan Smith look good by comparison.

Miliband running out of time to beat the odds of an election win

Labour figures say leader must ‘raise his game’ and define what he stands for as poll reveals his personal rating is falling

Labour demands answers over welfare reforms

Labour has demanded an explanation from ministers as to why they hid official advice that planned welfare reforms could make 40,000 families homeless, while costing the taxpayer more than they save.

Lords may ambush plans to limit benefits

Plans to impose an annual limit on benefit payments could be ambushed in the House of Lords following a warning from within Whitehall that the move risked making 40,000 families homeless.

Paul Vallely: Come over here, take our jobs ... Actually, no

Iain Duncan Smith has picked up the chords to Gordon Brown's tune on immigration, because voters like that refrain

Critics take aim at IDS and his 'jobs for Britons'

Iain Duncan Smith came under fire from business leaders and lawyers yesterday for urging employers to give jobs to young Britons in preference to migrant workers.

Leading article: Mr Duncan Smith takes a wrong turn

Increasingly, it seems, ministers are using speeches abroad to air views that might prove controversial, or harmful to Coalition unity, at home.

Firms urged to hire British jobless

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has issued a plea to business to recruit jobless British youths, rather than taking on migrant workers.

Councils fear over housing benefit cut

More than half of councillors in England are worried about the strain on public services caused by cuts to housing benefit, according to a survey.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there