New Articles 16-year-old William Hague rails against the evils of socialism in his famous speech to the Conservative Party conference in 1977

The annual release of secret papers from the National Archive reveals Mrs Thatcher’s scornful response to a plan to put the precocious young Tory in the Treasury

Leading Article: This mayoral contest is damaging both main parties

AS THE twists and turns of the London mayor story continue to imitate art, two observations arise. The first is that the Conservative Party is in deeper trouble than anyone realised. William Hague is in many ways an admirable politician, but it is becoming clearer by the day that he is not the right politician for the Conservatives at this juncture of their great party's history. And he has lost a great deal of credibility in the London mayoral imbroglio. Not only did he endorse Jeffrey Archer in unwisely fulsome terms, but he also made a serious error of judgement in supporting the ban on the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools - an issue that came up because Steven Norris opposed it.

Senior Tories are `embarrassed' by Norris rejection

TORY MAYOR RACE Former transport minister was derailed by letter from angry women in his one-time Essex constituency

The Week In Westminster: Food will be undoing of Brown hy

NICK BROWN'S number could be up next year, quite apart from this week's slap in the face when the French insisted on keeping the ban on British beef. The Agriculture Minister's department could be disbanded when the Food Standards Agency comes into operation, allowing farming matters to be merged into a new countryside ministry.

Michael Portillo: Charm offensive

Crushed and defeated at the last election, Michael Portillo is back and beaming after his by-election victory. Photographer David Modell charted his triumphal return to the hustings. Introduction by Donald Macintyre

How we met: Michael Portillo; Laurence Marks

Tory MP Michael Portillo, 46, was born in London and lives there still, with his wife, Carolyn. As a member of John Major's cabinet, he was first Secretary of State for Employment, and then for Defence. After losing his seat in the 1997 general election, he has just made a triumphant return to politics, after being elected to be the Member for Kensington and Chelsea

Parliament: The Sketch: Farmer Brown's performance upstaged by arrival of city slicker Labour muck-spreader spatters front benches with nonsense

I FELL ASLEEP during environment questions and had an unpleasant dream about swimming across a stagnant pond with a large plastic bag over my head. I suppose I should be ashamed of myself but I would cite two things in mitigation: first, the overpoweringly anaesthetic nature of the question that finally put me under - an inquiry about the auditing of parish councils - and second, that even as my forehead drooped towards the press gallery railing, my mind was struggling to produce an appropriate metaphor for such asphyxiating proceedings.

FOCUS: THE TORIES IN TURMOIL: Eight fatal days when Hague lost control

The Conservative leader took a huge gamble backing Jeffrey Archer and Michael Ashcroft - it backfired in spectacular fashion

Football: Citizen Dan on coach journey to a new future

Chelsea's Romanian has developed into a formidable force.

The well-heeled of Kensington vote with their feet to make no party really happy

FOR MICHAEL PORTILLO the result was little short of perfect. But for Mr Hague, the outcome was yet another disappointment. Mr Portillo's re-entry into Westminster politics has predictably raised large questions about the future of his party.

Leading Article: After a bad week for the Tories, Mr Portillo's return is a mixed blessing

LAST WEEK was a remarkable one for British politics. We witnessed the reversal of the old adage that the governing party always suffers a mid-term crisis. Instead, it is the Opposition who have imploded, the collapse in Conservative fortunes having been only slightly relieved by retaining the safe Kensington and Chelsea seat and the return of Michael Portillo to Parliament. The triple whammy of Archer, Ashcroft and Hamilton drove the Tory leadership into paroxysms of paranoia not seen since the darkest days of John Major. Such traumas - and no one even mentioned Europe.

Letter: Sleaze breeds apathy

Sir: On Thursday the good folk of the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea voted on the state of British politics at the end of the 1990s. Over 70 per cent made it clear that they want nothing to do with the whole miserable affair.

The Sketch: MPs find dubious alibis for not consorting with Archer jokes

IT WAS 2.33pm and the runners and riders in the Archer stakes were under starter's orders. Who would be the first to make a joke about the disgraced Conservative candidate for London mayor and exactly how long would it take them to get to the line?

Leading Article: Just a rumour

ONE OF the biggest threats to civilisation as we know it posed by the Internet, it is alleged, is that it is a massive marketplace of unchecked rumour.

Letter: Portillo's hypocrisy

CONTRARY TO your suggestions ("Stay out of poll, Tatchell told", 14 November), I have not been pressured by Labour officials to keep clear of Kensington and Chelsea. Nor has Stephen Twigg MP, or any other gay Labour Party member, asked me not to get involved in the by-election.
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