What a difference a day makes

Sir Malcolm Rifkind

What a difference a day makes. In just 24 hours, Sir Malcolm Rifkind went from angry defiance to a grim-faced acceptance that he would have to quit his job - both as a member of parliament and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

So what changed in that time?

Quite simply, Downing Street withdrew its support, threatening in effect to push Sir Malcolm if he did not jump first - or in the language preferred by the Tory party they offered him a whisky and a revolver and urged him to do the honourable thing.

It is quite possible that, as he says, Sir Malcolm has not broken any parliamentary rules. But his bragging on camera to a representative of a fictitious Chinese company who turned out to be an undercover reporter - and his angry insistence that he had done nothing wrong afterwards - won him few friends in Westminster.

Tomorrow the debate may turn to a wider question - whether Britain is better off without MPs like Sir Malcolm, who claim they are entitled to earn more than £67,000 a year. Or, whether we are all worse off without men and women of experience who may opt for a quieter and, who knows, better paid life outside.

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Labour yet to agree tuition fees policy funding

Graduates celebrating

I understand Labour has still not agreed how to finance a cut in tuition fees from £9,000 a year to £6,000 a year even though the policy is due to be announced in a week's time.

Peter Mandelson, formerly the minister responsible for universities, will give a speech later today in which he will warn the universities must be compensated in full for any cut in their income due to a cut in their income from tuition fees.

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Miliband's unorthodox strategy

Ed Miliband

Don't pick a fight with big business. Don't fall out with Murdoch. Don't look anti-aspiration. Those have long been considered the rules for anyone serious about winning an election.

What makes this campaign so unpredictable and so fascinating is that Ed Miliband is tearing up those rules. That's why he'll lose, say his critics. That's why he believes he'll stand on the steps of Number 10 in just 82 days' time.

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Who's winning the tax dodge row?

David Cameron and Ed Miliband

Dodgy...bang to rights...up to his neck.

Not normal parliamentary language, but those are the words and phrases Ed Miliband used today in the Commons to allege that David Cameron's Tory party takes money from tax dodgers.

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Why young people should register to vote

"Can I get you to vote?"

That's what I asked when I took my ballot box to the hair salon to ask a group of apprentices whether they're going to bother.

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Miliband's 'on your side' Commons gamble

Ed Miliband speaking at Prime Minister's questions

The morning after the Newsnight embarassment before, Ed Miliband did something rather interesting.

He chose to march towards the sound of Tory gunfire.

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Debates - on or off?

TV debates 2010
David Cameron is setting new conditions for taking part in the TV debates

Debates - on or off? David Cameron says he wants to take part in TV election debates and that he thinks a deal can be done but... he's also setting new conditions for taking part.

The PM told the BBC this morning that the Northern Ireland parties should be included now that the SNP and Plaid Cymru have been invited.

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Scots votes on English NHS laws

I have been speaking to Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about how SNP MPs will vote after the next election.

With the polls predicting a doubling in the party's support and, potentially, a huge increase in the number of their MPs this really matters.

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Iraq Inquiry - Is it being 'sexed down'?

Sir John Chilcot

Delayed again. Until after the election. Very suspicious say those who fear a cover up of the decisions taken by Tony Blair's government which led the UK to join George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Nick Clegg - whose Liberal Democrat party opposed the war in the face of combined Labour and Conservative support for it - says that some will fear that the report of the Iraq Inquiry is being "sexed down".

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Nigel Farage and the future of the NHS

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage tried and failed to persuade his party to back his view that the NHS should be replaced with an insurance based system like they have in many parts of the world.

Two years ago he said that he'd be more comfortable if the money he spent on health was invested through the market place rather than central government.

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