News Lynton Crosby has told ministers to stop announcing minor policies which distract from the party's core messages

Government departments have effectively been banned from promoting initiatives that are not central to the party’s key election themes of crime, the economy, immigration and welfare

Dr Fox said doctors and nurses were partly responsible for incidences of poor care, referring to the Stafford Hospital scandal

Liam Fox calls for end to ring-fencing of finances for 'wasteful NHS'

Former Shadow Health Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, says an obsession with targets and spending was 'killing patients'

Smythson CEO Andy Janowski to leave after the birth of his twins

Chairman and owner Jacques Bahbout will take the reins

Banana-nap: a woman rests at her banana stall in Manaus, Brazil

Why we must save the banana

The healthy snack is under threat, with insect plagues reducing global supplies. Rosie Millard wonders where we’d be without the lovable fruit and its comic potential

After the death of Nelson Mandela, Africa tilts towards hope

Day two of the obituaries saw a rebalancing. The full backlash cannot be far behind

Bombs and guns ‘have killed 11,500 children’ in Syria, research shows, including some executed and tortured

Reports records 764 children as summarily executed, 112 of whom were reported to have been tortured, including some of infant age

HMS Daring arrives at Cebu island to join Philippines relief effort

British warship will take aid to previously unassisted remote islands and villages

Ending poverty is a huge ambition. It's too much to ask of foreign aid

The long-running debate on how much foreign aid can help is drawing to a close

Godfrey Bloom to resign as Ukip MEP after controversial 'sluts' remark

Former party whip will sit as an independent in the European Parliament 

Too many peace efforts mean further instability in eastern Congo

Confusion over the crisis in eastern Congo stems from three separate and often competing peace efforts in one of the world’s most unstable areas. Fighting between rebel groups and the army has displaced one million people since July, all under the watchful eye of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operation.

Public finances slip into the red in July despite recovery

The public finances registered a surprise deficit in July, frustrating George Osborne's hopes of bringing down public borrowing more rapidly.

African Union peacekeepers take position outside the UN compound in Somalia

British foreign aid for Somalia falls into hands of al-Qa'ida

Almost £500,000 of goods and equipment "confiscated" by terror group as aid budget row continues

Critics ask why Britain is giving £1.5bn in aid to six nations with space ambitions

TaxPayers' Alliance says countries with space programmes should not be receiving money from UK mean to be going to world's poorest

UKip MEP Godfrey Bloom

Godfrey Bloom shrugs off condemnation after demanding that Britain stops sending money to 'Bongo Bongo Land'

But Godfrey Bloom shrugs off criticism saying his remarks would 'probably double my vote in the north of England'

Cambodian government ready to discuss power-sharing with opposition after contentious election

Both sides appear poles apart on how to resolve political stalemate following accusations of widespread fraud against ruling party

Is the killing of Kamal Hamami by Islamists a ploy to gain Western arms or just a local dispute?

The circumstances of Mr Hamami’s death remain unclear, but in Syria’s war all politics are local

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'