Voices

Khodorkovsky’s release may well have been intended to further those goals by sending a positive signal about Russia's future business climate

The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Volume 1: Prelude to Power by Alastair Campbell

Blood on the tracks to the summit

Steve Richards: The real purpose of public inquiries

There is a deceptive purity about them, the formality, the questioning of witnesses, the evidence-based conclusions. But the context of these acts is always multilayered

The Sketch: Democratic elections can leave you with a pretty mixed bag

The voting is complete, the chairs of the select committees are in. Perhaps Tony Blair was right and democracy really is "a universal human value", it's reached the House of Commons. The whips used to choose the composition of the committees, and the members then used to elect their chair, as juries do. Appointment was a power of patronage jealously held by the whips. Robin Cook tried to override it and failed – and so did Jack Straw. In the last days of the old government, a small number of crowd-pleasing changes were put through to "give power back to Parliament", and this was one. The results are, as you'd expect, a mixed bag.

MPs' summer break cut to 38 days

MPs will have their summer break cut to 38 days this year when the Commons sits in September for the first time since 2004, the Government announced today.

The battle to write the inside story of New Labour

Freed from the cares of office, party heavyweights are racing to get their version of the years in power into print

David Clark: What will nice Nick say to the arms dealers?

The neocon moment has passed, making Tory-Lib Dem agreement on foreign affairs easier. But key differences remain

John Rentoul: This can't be postponed until September

Gordon Brown's statement this afternoon contained a double surprise

Preserved: Britain's 'barrier reef'

Government scheme to protect ecology of Chagos Islands delights green movement, but exiled islanders will be kept away so that US can retain use of its airbase

Econoblog: Borrowing - not as bad as it might have been

The long and short of it is that Alistair Darling will have maybe another £15bn to splash around in next weeks Budget.

Brown on Iraq: I wasn’t at fault

Prime Minister at pains to distance himself from the errors and evasions of war

Steady Brown negotiates inquiry tightrope

For a man walking a tightrope, Gordon Brown looked remarkably steady.

The Sketch: The time to eat my hat is fast approaching

We scoffed, of course, because the plan was so unlikely to succeed

Polanski adds a bit of Hitchcock to the revival of Blair's ghost

Pierce Brosnan's performance carries chilling echoes of the former PM
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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