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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.

Sarah Sands: We love romantics. We just don't expect them to win

Recommending Michael Foot for a job on the Evening Standard, Aneurin Bevan said to its proprietor, Lord Beaverbrook: "I've got a young bloody knight errant here." The description held true. Political and journalistic opponents paid tribute to Foot last week with a mixture of wonder and exasperation. The Daily Mail's obituary was a version of the famous American epitaph for Foot's spiritual predecessor, Thomas Paine: "He had lived long, did some good and much harm."

Leading article: The Chancellor's slings and arrows can wound

Mr Darling's defence is also an attack on leadership at Number 10

No 10 urged to probe bullying claims

Conservative leader David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Nick Clegg both called on 10 Downing Street today to look into allegations of bullying of staff.

Ruddigore, Grand Theatre, Leeds<br/>Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin, Royal Festival Hall, London<br/>Jurowski/OAE, Roundhouse, London

Spared some creaking old traditions, a bright new production of a Gilbert and Sullivan oddity comes up roses

Mark Steel: Just who do you vote for given this appalling choice?

The moment you think of voting Labour, up pops the unregretful Blair

Exclusive: Vote of no confidence in Tory economic policies

Poll lead slips to 7 points as vast majority of voters say Cameron should be clearer about plans for cuts

Letters show how Brown tried to heal rift with Mowlam

PM's 'emotional' correspondence with dying MP was an attempt to end their long-standing feud

John Rentoul: Lives of Peter Mandelson

Along with Andrew Roberts, Matthew d'Ancona, Stephen Bayley, Iain Dale and John Kampfner, I was asked by Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, to write a mock obituary of Peter Mandelson for the January issue. Now that the February issue is out, I reprint my contribution here.

Bruce Anderson: All of Brown's Cabinet now want him to lose the next election

Mandelson's position is without precedent in British politics &ndash; he's choreographer-in-chief

Balls goes on attack, but Brown and Miliband now in 'cold war'

Minister defends aggressive campaign as PM's relations with Foreign Secretary hit a new low

Steve Richards: The only certainty about this plot: it will damage Labour

The madness of this move overwhelms the reason

Donald Macintyre: Will they, won't they launch a coup?

You can't find a Labour figure who doesn't believe their chances better without Brown

Steve Richards: So who said what to whom? The truth about the cuts debate

The decision to put up taxes again caused angst beyond the Treasury

Bob Ainsworth: You Ask The Questions

The Defence Secretary answers your questions, such as 'Why is our Army so poorly equipped?' and 'Do you regret voting for the Iraq war?'

Lord Browne returns to public life to chair student fees review

Lord Browne, the ex BP boss once said to be Prime Minister Tony Blair’s favourite captain of industry, returned to the public spotlight today – just two years after dramatically quitting as head of the oil giant after admitting lying to a court.

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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness