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Westminster Outlook Michael Fallon is Westminster's – and the world's – first land-dwelling, four-limbed octopus, his tentacles wrapped around Whitehall, circular suckers incapable of being removed from powerful ministries of state.

Lord Mandelson warns Ed Miliband and Ed Balls over Labour's links with unions

Former Business Secretary also said the party needed to spell out a clear economic message

Cosy, warm, cheery: Gay Hussar in Soho

Samuel Muston: Cosy and cheery - I see why Gay Hussar regulars are in a stew

When it was announced that the Gay Hussar restaurant in Soho was to be closed up and sold by its owners, Corus Hotels, its dedicated clientele were disconsolate. How, they asked in various newspapers and magazine columns, could this monument to Hungarian food and late 20th-century Labour politics be lost to the property spivs?

Royal Mail’s privatisation has been long delayed but it is welcome nonetheless

Life can be full of ironies. To make sure of meeting Tuesday night’s deadline I wanted to post an application for shares late on Friday night. When I got to the local pillar box it was blocked up, with the (not entirely necessary) inscription “box closed” where the collection times should be. I did suffer a moment’s hesitation about investing in this business. Not for long though.

Peter Mandelson, who this week said energy price freeze plans would be a 'step back for the party'

Labour power-bill freeze ‘will help two million firms’... but Coalition – and Lord Mandelson – are no fans of Ed Miliband's pledge

Former Labour business secretary says proposal to restrict bills for 20 months could undo years of his work under Blair and Brown

Blairites fight back with release of Damian McBride aides' emails

Hundreds of emails sent between Tony Blair’s closest allies as he fought with Gordon Brown for the leadership of the Labour Party were released tonight in an apparent attempt to pre-empt the serialisation of Damian McBride’s book.

Labour threatens to withdraw support for HS2 rail project

Labour has threatened to withdraw support for the HS2 rail project if the bill rises above £50 billion.

Graham Stringer wants Lord Mandelson (above) to return as the Opposition’s chief spin-doctor

Bring back Peter Mandelson, former whip Graham Stringer urges Ed Miliband

A former Labour whip has criticised Ed Miliband for his failure to “attack the Government” during the parliamentary recess and called for Lord Mandelson to return as the Opposition’s chief spin-doctor.

Will we need HS2? Of course not, in 20 years we'll have holograms says Ed Miliband's new business ambassador...

Lord Mitchell, an entrepreneur and former party spokesman in the Lords, said that he initially supported the £42.6 billion scheme but had changed his mind

Ken Clarke joins forces with Danny Alexander and Lord Mandelson to warn against EU exit

The intervention came as the cross-party British Influence group launches a manifesto titled Better off in a Better Europe

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Conservatives of the world,
Unite! Politics just got more difficult for the Opposition

The Tories, baying  at every mention  like a pantomime audience, lapped it up

Artist's impression of HS2, which is struggling with costs 13 years before it is due to carry its first passengers

'HS2 will be an expensive mistake': Lord Mandelson urges Government to abandon controversial rail link plans

Former Business Secretary says HS2 could 'damage' the northern regions it is intended to help

Andy McSmith's Diary: United they stand... not to mention stepping on toes

The original purpose for which the trade unions created the Labour Party was to get working-class representatives into Parliament. The old engineering union, the AUEW, which has now been absorbed in Unite, had a particularly strong record for taking members off the factory floor, training them up and getting them into Parliament.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Jemima Khan vs Peter Mandelson, Nigel Farage's UKIP fruitcake hangover and Christine Hamilton's 'enthusiastic' young friend goes it alone for the Tories

Jemima Khan, daughter of Sir James Goldsmith, who was arguably the stroppiest multi-millionaire of his generation, has met a lot of characters, from Nick Clegg to Julian Assange, but her encounter with Peter Mandelson, the old Labour spin master, was evidently of a different order.

John Prescott was one of many who took to twitter to voice their reaction to the Leveson report

John Prescott misses out on title of High Steward of Hull... to arch rival Peter Mandelson

Former Deputy Prime Minister irate at missing out on title

Labour says the working class no longer exists, so why do 60 per cent of us claim to belong to it?

When politicians who believe everyone is middle class see vast decaying housing estates, they must think someone’s having a giant dinner party with a Victorian theme.

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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