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

Michael Portillo's sexual past is colourful - but it's his own affair

The image is irresistible: the future Tory leader in a canary twinset, cavorting on Midsummer Common

`These confessions will not worry the blue-rinse brigade'

CONSERVATIVES IN Kensington and Chelsea said yesterday that Michael Portillo's revelations about his homosexual experiences made no difference to whether he is selected as a parliamentary candidate. In fact, the blemish on his curriculum vitae may even boost his chances.

Leading Article: As Mr Portillo once said, who dares wins

BRITISH POLITICS needs Michael Portillo. This is not a sentiment that The Independent might have found itself sharing a few years ago. Mr Portillo's performances at Conservative Party conferences played well with a dwindling band of elderly activists, but for most of the rest of us they were toe-curling embarrassments, maladroit and bordering on the xenophobic. To the voters Mr Portillo was, Neil Hamilton aside, the most potent symbol of the arrogance that enveloped the Conservatives during their last years. There were many who were glad that they "stayed up for Portillo" to see him lose his seat in May 1997.

Portillo speaks of gay experiences `in past'

THE FORMER defence secretary Michael Portillo last night spoke of having had "homosexual experiences". He is the most senior Conservative to make such a statement.

Farewell to the maverick Mr Clark

Enter Mr Portillo, great blue hope

Letter: The no-policy party

Sir: Contrary to what the Tory image-makers would like us to believe, the unpopularity of William Hague has little to do with image and a great deal to do with the lack of Tory policies.

Tories accuse Portillo of compassion

MICHAEL Portillo was accused of trying to further his Tory leadership ambitions yesterday after his latest attempt to portray himself as the "caring" face of Conservatism.

Archer insults generation of black London women

JEFFREY ARCHER'S bid to become mayor of London was in danger of imploding last night after he described a generation of black women as badly dressed and overweight.

Prepare for poll, Hague tells party

WILLIAM HAGUE has put the Tories on alert for a general election next spring and ordered them to shed their image as a "single issue party" on Europe. Although Tony Blair is unlikely to call an election before autumn next year at the earliest, the Conservative leader has demanded that the party speed up its preparations in case of a snap poll.

Hague puts party on election alert

WILLIAM HAGUE has put the Tories on alert for a general election next spring and ordered them to shed their image as a "single issue party" on Europe. Although Tony Blair is unlikely to call an election before autumn next year at the earliest, the Conservative leader has demanded that the party speed up its preparations in case of a snap poll.

Ministers' fury at Blair over shuffle circus

FURIOUS Cabinet ministers are demanding that Tony Blair end the annual cabinet reshuffle ritual which they say paralyses the Government for weeks and provokes continual, and humiliating, media speculation.

Tory rethink on free Bank of England

WILLIAM HAGUE may end the Tories' hostility to an independent Bank of England in an important policy U-turn.

Blair in assault on Old Labour

TONY BLAIR plans to isolate Old Labour under sweeping party reforms after being warned that Labour's "ramshackle" machine could jeopardise its general election prospects.

Politics: Portillo tipped to take Peter Brooke's London seat

SPECULATION OVER Michael Portillo's political comeback to Westminster intensified last night after it emerged that a safe central London seat will be vacant at the next general election.

Politics: The Week In Westminster - Tony should ignore the pampas grass people should listen to Skinner's Old Labour

TONY BLAIR had a rotten week and his normal confidence deserted him during a lacklustre performance at Prime Minister's Question Time. The leader hailed as the principal victor in the Balkans war found it difficult to adjust to the grind of domestic politics.
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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
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

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
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

It's not easy being Green

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
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003