News

The firm carrying out the Government’s controversial “fitness for work” tests on disabled benefit claimants is a “disgrace” and should be stripped of its contract, Labour will say on Monday.

Coalition wins crucial vote on VAT rise

A bid to scrap the 2.5% hike in VAT was overwhelmingly defeated in the Commons in a major victory for the Coalition Government.

Lib Dems recoil at Osborne's 'regressive' Budget

VAT up, spending cut, benefits slashed in Osborne’s first Budget

The Sketch: Concern for the vulnerable? They couldn't care less

Well, there it is, now we know. From its statement on public spending cuts, the coalition's "concern for the vulnerable" is revealed as a hoax. They couldn't care less about the weak, the fragile, the incapacitated. If they cared, they'd never have made Danny Alexander answer questions for an agonising hour, exposing to the Commons his parliamentary disabilities and piteous lack of preparation. That was not an example of "compassionate Conservativism" (unless, of course, it was).

Union leaders and public urged to debate deficit

Politicians, trade union leaders and members of the public were invited today by the Government to engage in the debate on how to cut the budget deficit and ensure Britain lives within its means.

Coalition cabinet's rising star was too terrified to admit he was gay

Two of David Laws' last acts as a Liberal Democrat cabinet minister were to rebuff the offer from a bemused civil servant of a pot plant for his new office – just before axeing the Treasury's entire budget for pot plants.

The Sketch: Tantrums and tiaras, but Labour have really lost their sparkle

There was a small but observable increase in tiaras in the House of Lords. It may or may not mean the return of the Cavaliers, but we've certainly witnessed a rout of the Roundheads.

Diane Abbott adds name to leadership contenders

Diane Abbott yesterday put herself forward as a left-wing contender to succeed Gordon Brown, arguing some of her rivals for the role had been "more focussed on winning the leadership battle" than on helping defeat the Tories in the election.

Sean O'Grady: If you get all the bad news out at once, the only way left to go will be up. Or will it?

Alastair Campbell, who understood such matters better than most, said that all governments need a "narrative" – a simple, straightforward way of saying what they are about.

Liz Hoggard: We're all 'second division' sometimes

Yvette Cooper is a bit of ahead girl swot. But she was pushed too far

John Rentoul: Cameron is cheeky, but right

The Conservative leader's bid for 'Guardian' reader support on public sector differentials is smart

Tories will not raise national insurance

The Conservative Party will today promise to spare businesses and people on low and middle-incomes from the rise in national insurance contributions (NICs) due next year.

£11bn cut in Whitehall costs to help deficit

All Government departments will be affected by economy drive

Cameron 'losing battle for liberal votes'

David Cameron has hit a "glass ceiling" in support and needs to do more to convince liberal voters to back his rebranded Tory party, a senior member of his team has admitted.

The Sketch: Service cuts? You're joking – it's about 'smarter' savings

He's got an attractive laugh, has Liam Byrne, but he used it too often. sounding like a desperate husband trying to make light of his infidelities.

Tories are heading for hung parliament, warns Heseltine

David Cameron is facing the nightmare of a minority government in a hung parliament, Lord Heseltine has warned. The former Deputy Prime Minister's remarks coincide with a sequence of opinion polls showing that the gap between the two main parties has been closing since the new year, when greater attention focused on the Conservatives.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
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War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

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Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

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A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

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After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
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Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
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The Downton Abbey effect

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China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

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Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

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Philippa Perry interview

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Harry Kane interview

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