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Revelling in the latest growth figures, George Osborne lifted Balls-baiting to a new plane. He was asked an unusually long list of super-friendly questions by euphoric Tory backbenchers. Ones that in the secret dreams of the MPs involved, invite the answer: “Yes. My honourable friend has absolutely hit the nail on the head with that spiffing question correctly mentioning our long-term economic plan, allowing me to lay into the Opposition, and qualifying him for early promotion.”

Aidan Burley claimed that he left the dinner immediately after a guest had proposed a toast to the Third Reich

Calls to reopen inquiry into Tory MP Aidan Burley's Nazi-themed stag party

The Conservative Party is facing calls to reopen its inquiry into a Nazi-themed stag party attended by Aidan Burley.

Matt Parker, far right, heads a 16-man team charged with preparing England for the World Cup next year

Six Nations Championship: ‘Mr Marginal Gains’ gears up England’s game

There are plenty of people out there who look at the way the All Blacks are playing – not to mention the way the Springboks have added a sprinkling of panache to their power game – and reach the conclusion that England cannot possibly win their home World Cup next year without a miracle.

Flatlining: the Government has been accused by Labour of intentionally 'running down' the NHS

NHS hospitals flatlining: Staff morale falls to new low after Coalition ‘bashing’

Health experts warn Mid-Staffs crisis has taken terrible toll on frontline workers

Let down: PC David Rathband, who was blinded by gunman Raoul Moat

Pc David Rathband: Estranged wife 'could not forgive officer left blind by gunman Raoul Moat over affair with 7/7 survivor Lisa French'

Kath Rathband tells inquest estranged husband who was shot and left blind by gunman Raoul Moat would call her 100 times a day

Whistleblower Julie Bailey, of the campaign group 'Cure the NHS' poses outside the Houses of Parliament with a copy of the report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust Foundation Public Inquiry.

NHS whistleblower Julie Bailey abused on Facebook after being awarded CBE

Cure the NHS activist Julie Bailey and nurse Helene Donnelly were both mentioned in the New Year Honours List for their work as whistleblowers

The number of forensic examinations carried out on victims of rape and serious sexual assault in London has plummeted despite a dramatic rise in attacks being reported to police (the picture was posed by models)

Forensic examinations of rape victims plummet

The number of forensic examinations carried out on victims of rape and serious sexual assault in London has plummeted despite a dramatic rise in attacks being reported to police.

Nearly eight years after this rally in Trafalgar Square in London, the problem of Islamophobia carries on

Islamophobia: Surge revealed in anti-Muslim hate crimes

Many forces reported a particular rise in anti-Islam hate crimes following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby

Man arrested after body found in Stafford on Christmas morning

The body of an elderly man was found in the road in the early hours of Christmas Day

The NHS is planning to hire 3,700 extra nurses in the coming months

More than 1,000 extra trainee nursing places to be created

NHS wants to tackle the growing shortage of nurses on hospital wards

A man has been banned from every supermarket in Britain after he was caught masturbating in the aisles of a Sainsbury's supermarket

Man banned from every supermarket in Britain for masturbating in Sainsbury’s meat aisle

49-year-old had become overwhelmed by his 'excessive sexual drive', a court heard. He can now only enter a supermarket when accompanied by an adult

Guide dog mauled while helping owner deliver Christmas cards

‘Friendly’ black Labrador Gwen did not fight back because she was working and in her harness at the time

JCB to create 2,500 jobs as Osborne praises 'strong' manufacturing investment

Vehicle manufacturing giant JCB is set to create 2500 new jobs by 2018 as part of a £150 million expansion plan.

Football match-fixing: Two men remanded in custody over allegations

A total of seven have been arrested over the allegations

Councils have reduced the numbers of staff responsible for the upkeep of rights of way

Barbed wire, missing bridges and impenetrable overgrowth: Ramblers restricted by council cutbacks

More than 100,000 hazards on England’s footpaths, warns charity

Marko Arnautovic praises Charlie Adam impact for Stoke City

Forward Marko Arnautovic believes his Stoke team-mate Charlie Adam's recent exploits have sent a message to Potters boss Mark Hughes.

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Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain