Arts and Entertainment Ed Miliband told Kirsty Young his relationship with brother David was 'healing'

Forget policy proposals, it is the choices made by political leaders on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that really give the public a chance to see into both their souls and their desire to be seen as accessible.

Liberal Democrat Conference: Welfare State: New pension urged to beat `time bomb'

RADICAL PROPOSALS to reform the welfare state, including compulsory second pensions and the taxing of child benefit, were overwhelmingly endorsed by the conference, in spite of fierce protests that they went against the very principles of the Liberal Democrat Party.

Cabinet split over electoral reform

A CABINET split over electoral reform deepened yesterday after Jack Straw gave a clear warning to the Liberal Democrats that the Government did not have to buy a "pig in a poke" by accepting the recommendations of the Jenkins commission on proportional representation.

Leading Article: The strange death of liberalism under Paddy Ashdown

PADDY ASHDOWN this week opens the most uneasy Liberal Democrat conference since he became leader 10 years ago. His situation is a paradox. He has the elixir of electoral reform - the one thing his party really, really wants - poised between cup and lip, and yet his party seems determined to jog his elbow.

Poll shock: all men are mortal, even Tony

THE NATION has finally rumbled that Tony Blair, though an avowedly sincere Christian, is not actually the duo-millennial reincarnation of Jesus Christ the Saviour himself. Until recently, Blair's poll ratings were of a magnitude usually given only to political leaders who have just unleashed a bomb or an army. But an annual survey published last week showed that the percentage of respondents who agree that Mr Blair "has lots of personality" has fallen from 80 per cent to 60 per cent over the year. His "tough" quotient is down from 57 to 42; his "more honest than most politicians" factor is slashed from a triumphal 54 to a tragic 34; and his "arrogance" rating is up from 21 to 29, now standing a full 10 per cent higher than Paddy Ashdown's.

Ashdown retreats over electoral reform on eve of conference

PADDY ASHDOWN is willing to water down the Liberal Democrats' commitment to wholesale proportional representation as part of a deal with Tony Blair, which he hopes will get his party into a coalition government.

Right of Reply: Mike Gapes

A Labour MP responds to Ken Livingstone's case for proportional representation

Right of Reply: Djordje Mijalkovic

The Counsellor

Leading Article: Kosovo cannot wait

WHAT WILL it take to force Nato to act over Kosovo? Two hundred thousand civilians have been forced to flee their homes in the Serbian province. This ethnic terrorism must be stopped. Russian and German objections must be faced down.

MPs wait in wings to succeed Madam Speaker

THE LIMBERING up has already started for a candidate to replace Betty Boothroyd, as the Speaker of the House of Commons, although her last curtain call is likely to be some years away.

Parliament & politics: Sketch: An Old Labour warhorse springs to Lilley's defence

A TASTE of what might have been was given to the Tory party yesterday afternoon when Peter Lilley, the new deputy leader, stood in for William Hague, whose mum wouldn't let him come out to play as he was still laid up with flu. Mr Hague, the dynamic youngest Tory leader this century - personal trainer Seb Coe, expert in judo, careful with his diet - proved that good old-fashioned heavy smoking and drinking, to excess, is the only way to get through a career in Parliament.

Union leader attacks reform

TONY BLAIR'S vision of a new electoral system for Britain comes under fire today from one of his closest allies in the union movement.

Politics: Tories warned on Lords reform

THE THREAT of a constitutional crisis was stepped up last night after the Government warned it would use the Parliament Act to force through legislation to reform the House of Lords if Conservative peers used their majority to block it.

Politics: Blair targets Tory peers

Tony Blair is planning to make inroads into the Tory majority in the Lords by announcing a working list 25 new life peers after the Queen's Birthday Honours List at the weekend.

Londoners vote for a mayor by three to one

LONDON is to have an elected mayor for the first time after voters in the capital voted by three to one in favour of the move in yesterday's referendum.

A day from which all parties took comfort

ALL three parties were claiming victory last night as election results came in from 166 local authorities across England.
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Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

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Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

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It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

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A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
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300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before