News

Labour backbencher Marsha Singh is to step down as an MP, triggering a by-election in his Bradford West constituency.

Why do we still love the waiting game?

The British ability to queue remains a justified stereotype. As Wimbledon fans line up across south London, David Brake asks if it's a frisson of anticipation or mere politeness that keep us in place

The Prime Ministers Who Never Were, Edited by Francis Beckett

When I was taught history we were told by our headmaster, no less, not to waste time on what he called "the what ifs of history". He reckoned that it was no good asking what would have happened if Anne Boleyn had agreed to sleep with Henry VIII out of wedlock, or if the plot to kill Hitler had succeeded, because no one knows and it is all idle speculation.

Diary: Downing Street's in a tails spin

Well, what a right old pig's ear that was! One minute we were being told by Number 10 that Dave (PM) would be sticking two fingers up to all those silly old snobs insisting he had to wear traditional tails on the day of the royal wedding – the next we hear he'll be donning his Bullingdon best after all. Just as Tory heartlands everywhere were struggling to come to terms with the prospect of their leader embarrassing the nation in such a shoddy fashion, flustered Downing Street lackeys were suddenly spinning a different yarn altogether, insisting the Prime Minister had in fact always intended to embrace his fate on 29 April. Someone, we were pointedly told, had jumped the gun by unofficially suggesting otherwise – someone who hadn't even bothered to check with his boss before opening his big fat stupid mouth!

MPs handed £3.2m expenses payout

MPs were paid £3.2 million in expenses from the final two months of 2010, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) disclosed today.

Eric Pickles: 'Tories fought 'gentle' by-election campaign

The Conservative Party fought a "gentle" campaign in the first by-election test for the coalition, Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said today.

Miliband keeps the champagne on ice as PM faces wrath of Tory right

Conservative leadership accused of pulling punches to protect Clegg as Labour claims result is first step towards rebuilding

Labour win in Oldham deals blow to Coalition

Labour secured an emphatic victory in a crucial first test of its popularity under the leadership of Ed Miliband last night by winning the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.

Leading article: What is and isn't at stake in Oldham East

Today's by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth is being widely presented as a crucial first test: for the Coalition, for the Liberal Democrats, and for Ed Miliband. Not surprisingly, the Liberal Democrat candidate, Elwyn Watkins, has tried to run his campaign exclusively on local issues, while his Labour opponent, Debbie Abrahams, has tried to elevate it into a referendum on the Government in general, and on Nick Clegg in particular.

Labour accuses Lib Dems of dirty tricks in Oldham

The Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election descended into acrimony last night as Labour accused the Liberal Democrats of launching personal attacks on their candidate in a last ditch attempt to win the seat.

Clegg puts in the hours on hustings for by-election

Nick Clegg made a last-minute effort to boost his party's ailing prospects in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election yesterday, making a third trip to boost morale ahead of tomorrow's ballot.

Is this the most unusual by-election ever?

With Labour's 'dirty election' win overturned, Brian Brady reports from Oldham East and Saddleworth on fading Lib Dem hopes

Cameron out on the stump – but does he really want to win?

David Cameron made political history yesterday by being the first Prime Minister to go campaigning in a by-election which, it is widely suspected, he is desperate to lose. The Prime Minister did not say that, of course. He insisted that the Conservative candidate, Kashif Ali, and his helpers are out to win Thursday's contest in Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Clegg braves chill on campaign trail – but gets the cold shoulder

Andy McSmith joins the Deputy PM as he goes out and about in Oldham East

Lib Dems roll out big guns for by-election campaign

Campaigning will get under way in earnest this week in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, the first big test of public opinion since the creation of the coalition government.

Village People: Standing out from the crowd in an outstanding year takes true idiocy

To mark the passing of 2010, I bring you the Village Idiot Parliamentary Awards of the Year for outstanding achievement in bringing politics into ridicule or disrepute during a year of many surprises.

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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
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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