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Professor Robert Coe, from Durham University:  “This seems to underline the view that improvements in GCSEs and some other examinations have had more to do with grade inflation than real sustained improvements over time.”

John Bercow re-elected unopposed as Speaker

John Bercow was returned as Commons Speaker today after an attempt to remove him was cast aside by the vast majority of MPs.

The election action unfolds

6.40am Nick Clegg, looking deflated despite having comfortably held his seat in Sheffield Hallam, acknowledged that the Liberal Democrats "simply didn't achieve what we hoped".

Protest votes speak volumes for Bercow

Although Ukip's Nigel Farage remained in hospital after the light-aircraft crash that almost killed him on polling day, scenes at the Buckingham count, where he stood for Parliament, remained decidedly colourful.

John Bercow's wife loses bid for council seat



The wife of the Commons speaker and former Tory MP John Bercow lost her bid to win a council seat for Labour today.

Speaker John Bercow fends off Nigel Farage

House of Commons speaker John Bercow has held his seat in Buckingham, beating off a challenge by Ukip's Nigel Farage.

Lucky escape for UKIP's Nigel Farage as banner plane crashes

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tonight spoke about his "miraculous escape" from a light plane crash after an election stunt went dramatically wrong.

Alan Smithers: Why will no party be bold on school admissions?

Soon after I arrived at the University of Buckingham, the vice-chancellor affectionately dubbed me Comrade Smithers. On hearing this, an old friend snorted, "God, if they think you are left wing, what does that say about the rest of the university?" But in this election I find that I am to the left of all three main parties in wanting a simple, clear, centrally set structure for secondary education. The key to this is the admissions process.

In Buckingham, the Bell tolls for Blair

The man with a mission to clean up politics is campaigning on the former PM's doorstep. Andy McSmith joined him

The Sketch: Ukip if you want to, he's in the pub by half ten

John Bercow is to be banned from all public buildings in Britain. Brilliant! A bit un-British, but a bold stroke in the Ukip manifesto. Clear, clinical, a little brutal, popular with all right-thinking people who regarded the Speaker's election as a stain on the Constitution.

Party to step aside for anti-EU rivals

Labour and Tory candidates in some marginal seats are to receive the surprise support of a rival, after the UK Independence Party announced it is to back the campaigns of Eurosceptic MPs at risk of losing their seats.

Selective schools not more socially exclusive, says study

Top comprehensives take less than their fair share of pupils from deprived homes

Village People: Aren't you that woman off the telly?

It will be an election rich in faces off the television. The title of most glamorous new MP of 2010 will surely go to Labour's Gloria De Piero. She was political editor of GMTV until she surprised colleagues last month by resigning to fight Ashfield, Notts., a safe Labour seat vacated by Geoff Hoon. Tory Esther McVey, also formerly of GMTV, missed becoming MP for Wirral West in 2005 by just 1,097 votes, but is in with a very good chance of success this time. Then there is Esther Rantzen, an authentic household name in her day, running as an independent in Luton South, where the Labour MP, Margaret Moran, was forced out by the expenses scandal. At 69, Rantzen is probably not on the verge of a new career, but it will be fun to see the veteran campaigner back on the stump – with or without vegetables that look like genitalia.

Minority parties - From fringe to centre-stage

Opportunities for single-issue groups have never been greater, explains Michael Savage

Letters: Soldiers' votes

Soldiers need to be told they have a right to vote

Man held on suspicion of poisoning soup at Stowe public school

Was it the porter, in the kitchen, with the ladle? This is the question puzzling police investigating the poisoning of a batch of carrot and coriander soup that was due to be fed to 760 pupils at a £27,000-a-year public school.

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