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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'