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

Comic Relief takes a battering from weak pound

British charities will struggle to deliver their vital overseas aid for the world's most vulnerable people this year, despite the record £58m raised by Comic Relief this weekend.

High-street heroes: Six superstyles for spring

You may not have heard ofa "hero piece" before, but you'd know one if you saw one. It's the item within a seasonal collection that makes people stop, stare, copy and covet. The "hero" is the sartorial equivalent of a good-looking boyfriend: it makes you feel good, and is made more appealing because you know everyone else wants it too. It's Kate Moss's pansy-print blouse for Topshop, which sold out the same day it hit the stores, or Roland Mouret's Galaxy dress, as seen on Posh Spice and Demi Moore. The British designer, and supplier of It-bags to the A-list, Anya Hindmarch designates one item a hero in every range she unveils.

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/openhouse/2008/10/the-vote-grab-h.html">Peter Tatchell: How the Republicans stole the 2004 election</a>

Will next week's US presidential vote be free and fair? Based on the conduct of the last election, possibly not. The 2004 election was marred by vote-fixing that would disgrace a banana republic

EU threatens Zimbabwe with further sanctions

The EU today threatened Robert Mugabe with more sanctions as fears grew for the safety of his political opponents in the run up to next week's election.

Leading article: A spiral of despair &ndash; and a ruler hellbent on destroying his country

Every time one imagines that Zimbabwe has hit rock bottom, Robert Mugabe's cruel regime manages to push the country into even greater misery. The past week has witnessed the unleashing of a campaign of violent intimidation against the political opposition. Thugs working for the ruling regime have forced thousands to flee their homes and left scores dead, including the prominent activist Tonderai Ndira.

UN chief urges Burma's junta to accept foreign aid

Three weeks after Cyclone Nargis killed at least 130,000 Burmese and left more than two million homeless, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, toured the devastated Irrawaddy delta by helicopter and urged the military regime to accept more foreign aid.

Peter Popham: Junta is acting out of self-preservation, not compassion

A grave natural disaster like the cyclone that ripped through southern Burma is a moment of reckoning for an authoritarian regime. It cannot fight the disaster as it fights the Karen rebels on the border, destroying their villages and crops, killing their animals and driving them into exile. It cannot descend as it did on the thousands of monks who demonstrated in the nation's towns and cities last September, shooting and beating and arresting them.

Burma cyclone death toll nears 4,000

Figure could reach 10,000

Donors renege on aid promises

The United States has not delivered US$5 billion worth of aid it has pledged to help rebuild Afghanistan, half of a US$10 billion shortfall from pledges made by the international community, a report released today found.

Wages row overshadows Banana Republic launch

Allegations that Banana Republic, part of the Gap chain, relies on cheap Indian labour cast a shadow over the opening of the company's first British shop.

Fashion's clean-up campaign

In the US, Banana Republic stands for affordable quality. This week's opening of its first UK store might signal the end of throwaway fashion, says Gemma Hayward

Suicide bomber kills general in Pakistan

A teenage suicide bomber has killed at least eight people in Rawalpindi, including Pakistan's surgeon general, the highest-ranking member of the country's military to be killed since Pakistan joined the so-called "war on terror".

American stores go bananas for UK despite the gloom

Banana Republic is leading a new fashion invasion from the States, in defiance of economic forecasts

Joan Smith: I am an atheist. Should I wear a big flashing sign on my forehead?

The Government has been sending warm signals to religious groups
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General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions