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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 12:24 GMT
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Jon Sopel
Jon Sopel
The Politics Show

Dole queue
Welfare dependence is a deadly trap for so many

Hello again...

If half a million Poles can come to Britain and find work, there must be jobs out there.

So how come 28% of Britons of working age aren't in employment?

In the next couple of weeks, a report into getting more people into work will land on ministers' desks.

Politicians of all parties are increasingly convinced that both carrot and stick are needed to break people out of a cycle of welfare dependence.

There was a time when any minister, particularly Labour, who threatened punitive action against benefit claimants would have faced a political storm - not any more.

We look at the changing prospects for the long term unemployed.

School of thought...

School book on desk
School choice is a bitter problem

Seven hundred thousand 10 and 11-year-olds throughout England learnt this week which secondary school they will go to in the autumn.

Most got their first choice. And for many in rural areas, there's really only one practicable school anyway.

But in the inner cities the stakes can be high.

Success or failure in getting into the best school and avoiding the really terrible ones can seem like a matter of life and death.

What can be done to improve the worst inner city schools?

The Conservatives think they have the answers.

I'll be talking to their education spokesman David Willetts.

Son of Benn

Hilary Benn
We try and uncover Benn's political persona
He's the son of a political legend, although he doesn't share his views - he's described by some as "the nicest man in politics", and he's the bookies' favourite to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in a few months' time.

But what does Hillary Benn actually stand for?

Although he's gone along with all the Government's controversial decisions since taking Clare Short's place in the Cabinet in 2003, his brief as Secretary of State for International Development keeps him out of the controversial mainstream.

Those trying to decide who to vote for in the Deputy Leadership election don't have that much to go on.

Max Cotton spent a day with him in his Leeds constituency to try and find out what makes him tick.

Never say never...

Artist Ray Sherlock puts the finishing touches to a political caricature of Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley
Is it really 'all smiles'?

A few years ago if I'd told you that the firebreathing reverend Iain Paisley - the man who likes to say "Never"! - would be preparing to sit down in government with a former IRA leader as his deputy, you'd probably have told me I was mad.

But next week, voters in Northern Ireland will elect a new Assembly.

And the odds are that the outcome I just mentioned will indeed come to pass.

Iain Paisley's party seems to be ready to enter government alongside Sinn Fein.

We report from the elections which could close a chapter in Northern Irish history.

Join my guests and me on the Politics Show on Sunday 04 March 2007 at 12:00 GMT - the roast can wait.

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