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

Characters in the Pakistani version of Sesame Street, called Sim Sim Hamara, which is made in Lahore

US backers pull funding from Sim Sim Hamara - a Pakistani version of Sesame Street

Foreign aid agency ends theatre group deal amid allegations money is not being used appropriately

Calls for response to 'forgotten crisis' in Burkina Faso

UN humanitarian chief Baroness Amos has called for a rapid response to the food crisis in Burkina Faso.

The Queen's Speech: Government fails to meet aid pledge

Development charities have voiced disappointment that today's Queen's Speech did not include a commitment to enshrine in law the Government's commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid.

Tories veer right in panic after poll collapse

The Conservatives were facing a backlash last night after David Cameron was forced to rethink key parts of the Queen's Speech.

EU will suspend most sanctions against Burma for a year

The European Union will suspend most sanctions against Burma for a year while it assesses the country's progress towards democracy.

Global aid fall sparks cash call

Europe's richest countries today faced pressure to step up cash support for developing nations after figures showed the first fall in global aid for 14 years.

Abandon overseas aid pledge, lords urge No 10

Britain should drop its pledge to maintain its level of aid to the world's poorest countries, a House of Lords inquiry recommends today.

Osborne's letter will point where is the budget going into

Dear taxpayer, here's where your hard-earned money really goes

Ever wondered how much money you pay each year in taxes to service the national debt? Or how much of your hard-earned income goes to fund the Prison Service, schools or the NHS?

Ruby Walsh rides Kauto Star back after the Cheltenham Gold Cup

James Lawton: Sadness at end of road but relief that Kauto's exit was not tragic

It was one of the fears but not the largest of them and when Kauto Star was gently advised by his jockey Ruby Walsh that it was time to go, that the great and often astonishing adventure was over, a huge wave of relief rolled across the valley.

Afghan soldiers, seen here training, will be on their own after international troops withdraw in 2014

Karzai accused of endangering troops by blocking night raids

Nato commanders claim President's demand has hampered vital operations against the Taliban

Conference should focus on positives, argue Somali business leaders

The build up to the London conference on Somalia has focused on what doesn't work in the Horn of Africa nation - the coastguard, the central government, the security services - but the answer to the country's crisis lies in examining what does work, argue Somali business leaders.

Ashcroft knew of 'culture of immorality', court told

Lord Ashcroft, the billionaire Conservative peer, knew companies he controlled were doing business with corrupt politicians on the Turks and Caicos Islands but did nothing to stop them, the Court of Appeal was told yesterday.

Five-minute memoir: Emma Forrest recalls a ‘flingair’

It was around midnight and I was reading the New York Times obituary page when he texted me: "What are you doing?" We were having a flingair, a cross between a fling and an affair where there's no third party and nobody gets hurt. I calculated the time to his house, the time to put on mascara and indecent underwear. I looked down and saw that the founder of Kundalini yoga had died at 90, but the founder of Danone yogurt had died at 103.

Ed Miliband accepts that he cannot promise in 2015 to deliver social justice from higher public spending

Andrew Grice: An age of austerity just might benefit the Tories

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Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas