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

Chancellor George Osborne

George Osborne will be forced to cut NHS and pension budgets, think tank warns

Chancellor George Osborne will be forced to abandon the Government ring fence-around the NHS and pension budgets and further cut public spending if he is to keep pledge not to raise taxes after the 2015 election, a leading think tank has said.

Somalia: Five police wounded in bombing by Islamists

Al-Shabaab says it used remote-controlled bomb

The limits of the cuts are being reached

Rules of state spending are being reconsidered

The limits of the cuts are being reached – and now nowhere is safe from the axe

Chancellor George Osborne's Spending Review in the House of Commons this afternoon

Most public spending reviews create winners and losers. But there are no winners today

When George Osborne spoke today he evidently felt he was responding to the public mood. How long will that mood last?

Chancellor George Osborne's Spending Review in the House of Commons this afternoon

Spending Review: George Osborne announces sweeping cuts to benefits and public sector pay while promising investment to boost economic growth

Chancellor also announced £300bn of new capital spending projects by the end of the decade  - including the largest programme of road building in 50 years

'The clock is ticking': Chancellor George Osborne

George Osborne’s threat to ministers: Cut now, or face worse to come

There is growing speculation that spending on schools will be squeezed by £1bn, even though it is officially one of three 'ring-fenced' budgets along with health and overseas aid

George Osborne sounded warnings ahead of 26 June deadline

George Osborne sounds 'star chamber' threat to ministers who fail to deliver cuts

Chancellor has demanded £11.5bn in spending reductions, with most Whitehall departments required to find savings of up to 10%

Education Secretary Michal Gove had previously seen his schools budget effectively protected

‘Ring-fenced’ schools budget at risk in next round of £11bn cuts

The schools budget is under threat as the Treasury seeks another £11.5bn of cuts despite David Cameron’s previous promises to protect the funding.

Now trim an extra £2.5bn! Osborne spells out Budget cuts to pay for infrastructure projects

Whitehall departments are to face fresh spending cuts over the next two years, with the money saved spent on infrastructure projects, Chancellor George Osborne told a pre-Budget meeting of the Cabinet today.

Cameron: 'We have to go further and faster on reducing the deficit'

David Cameron reaffirms urgency of deficit reduction

David Cameron has said that the Government needs to go “further and faster” to bring down the deficit after the loss of Britain’s coveted AAA credit rating.

Oxfam to donate its archive to Bodlean

Oxfam is to donate its 70-year archive to Oxford University's Bodleian Libraries, it was announced today.

Editorial: A poorly disguised raid on Britain's aid budget

If David Cameron wants to up military spending he should have the courage to say so

David Cameron visits the Golden Temple in Amritsar

Foreign-aid cash could be used to pacify war zones, says David Cameron

Money earmarked for foreign aid could be switched to the Ministry of Defence in an attempt to focus more resources on bringing peace and stability to warzones, David Cameron has signalled.

Pensioners' fuel allowance, free TV licence and bus passes at risk as Downing Street admits pledge to protect them only applies until 2015

New doubts were raised today about the future of pensioners' benefits, after Downing Street made clear that the Prime Minister's pledge to protect them applies only until the 2015 general election.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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