Steve Richards of The Independent looks behind the scenes at Westminster.

The internal debate within the Liberal Democrats about the wisdom of forming a coalition with the Tories is not often heard on the airwaves. In particular, the grassroots fear they will be bracketed in the public mind with the Conservatives when elections come. Here, the former MP, Sandra Gidley, demands a greater emphasis on party identity in conversation with a current MP Stephen Gilbert.

Ed Balls was at the despatch box this week in his new job as shadow Chancellor. There's been much speculation that he will provide a tough opponent to the Chancellor, George Osborne. But how far do these parliamentary clashes really count? The former Tory chancellor, Lord Lawson, and The Observer's senior economics commentator, William Keegan contrast and compare.

The cuts are coming. More were announced this week. Here, two MPs with senior local government experience, the Conservative's Bob Blackman and Labour's Heidi Alexander, debate the room for savings in Town Halls - and the political cost.

Everyone may be talking about 'The Big Society'. Some, not very politely. But who knows what it really means? Some answers here from two enthusiasts: Matthew Taylor who used to work for Tony Blair in Downing Street, and the Conservative, Jesse Norman.

Finally, a huge majority of MPs made clear this week that they wanted no truck with giving prisoners the vote. A more rebellious House of Commons than usual? Very much so, according to Philip Cowley, Professor of Parliamentary Government at Nottingham University.

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30 minutes

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Sat 12 Feb 2011 11:00

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