News Office politics: Mr Ortikov’s troubles began as a British embassy employee

Guard who refused to be a spy says UK turned its back on him

Stolen diaries reveal Blair plan for coalition

TONY BLAIR offered to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats during secret talks six months after the general election it emerged yesterday, after details of the meeting, stolen from Paddy Ashdown's private diaries, were published.

Hughes gets home affairs portfolio

CHARLES KENNEDY buried the hatchet with Simon Hughes yesterday by appointing his main rival for the Liberal Democrat leadership to the senior post he coveted.

Time for a reality check as Kennedy takes the stage

`There are overtones of The Life of Brian - "What have the Romans ever done for us?" '

Cook under fire for dam project

ROBIN COOK faced more criticism of his "ethical foreign policy" last night amid claims that the Government was preparing to help to fund a dam project in Turkey.

Thatcher says EU talk just `tittle-tattle'

BARONESS THATCHER sought to calm the storm over her comments that Britain should pull out of the European Union, dismissing them yesterday as "just dinner party tittle-tattle".

Comment: The appeal of the well-oiled oldie

Strangely, the general rule that applies to sex is reversed when it comes to booze

Tories `want to pull out of Europe'

THE TORY party was accused last night of wanting to pull Britain out of the European Union after party chairman Michael Ancram appeared to back calls to "renegotiate" membership of the EU.

Leading Article: Could the real Charles Kennedy now step forward?

NO MORE Celebrity Countdown, then. The most immediate consequence of the election of Charles Kennedy to the leadership of the Liberal Democrats is to deprive the makers and viewers of daytime television's quiz shows of one of their more versatile and entertaining guests. It would be churlish to dwell on this, but Mr Kennedy's frequent appearances in the magic rectangle have paid him a substantial political premium: the "name recognition" they delivered amongst the party's so-called "armchair membership" will have had a lot to do with his victory in this election.

Mr Blair can help the Lib Dems - but do they want to be helped?

The Lib Dem leadership contest has been a dismal affair, doing little to excite even the party's members

Reluctant Ashdown endorses Kennedy

CHARLES KENNEDY'S hopes of becoming leader of the Liberal Democrats have been boosted by winning the vote of Paddy Ashdown, the outgoing leader.

Robertson to build bridges with Russia

THE DEFENCE Secretary,George Robertson, spoke yesterday about the delicate diplomatic balancing act he will have to perform as he takes the helm of Nato going into a 21st century of " trouble and turbulence".

Politics: Hughes aims to benefit from Kennedy wobble

SIMON HUGHES will try to seize the initiative in the race to become the next Liberal Democrat leader by attacking Charles Kennedy's plans for closer links with Labour.

Leading Article: The race for the Lib Dem leadership takes a new twist

THEY'RE OFF - again! The wacky race that is the Liberal Democrats' leadership campaign takes another turn. Most of the declared runners have confirmed their candidacy - for now - and handed in their nomination papers. Only Don Foster, the party's education spokesman, has decided to do the decent thing and withdraw. His "pro-project" stance - much closer links to Labour - was unlikely to be a popular pitch. A forceful and authoritative case for the party to extend its co-operation was there to be made, but Mr Foster was not the best figure to make it. The leading contender for that cause, a man whose articulacy would have enlivened the race, was Menzies Campbell who declared himself a non-runner at an earlier stage. So we are left with no less than four candidates who are sceptical about closer links with Labour - Simon Hughes, David Rendel, Malcolm Bruce and Jackie Ballard - and one candidate, Charles Kennedy, who remains equivocal.

UK plans for UN reserve army

Military

Parliament & Politics: Liberal Democrats - Foster begins leadership bid

THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT leadership campaign became more crowded yesterday when Don Foster became the sixth challenger to launch his official bid to take over from Paddy Ashdown.
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