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Councils told by Government to do 'more with less'

Local councils must continue to provide "reasonable" services to the public despite swingeing cuts in central government funding, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles warned today.

Diary: Mandy out of step with Beeb

Waltzing Peter Mandelson, seen here strutting his stuff at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom, will not be appearing on his beloved Strictly Come Dancing, but controversy still rages as to who snubbed whom: Mandy or the BBC. The former First Secretary suggested stroppily to Total Politics magazine that no invitation to strut his stuff had been forthcoming: "They had their opportunity [to ask me]," he said, "and now they can get lost." Yet the Corporation's head of comms for Entertainment insists that, on the contrary, Mandelson declined an offer to take part – unlike cross-party fox-trotters Ann Widdecombe and Vince Cable, who is due to feature in a Christmas special. Well, it is two years since Mandy first expressed his interest in the show; perhaps the Beeb just played too hard to get.

Job losses caught on camera

Gaffe that gave the game away

Alan Johnson named as shadow chancellor

Alan Johnson was appointed to the key role of shadow chancellor in Ed Miliband's first shadow cabinet today.

Yvette Cooper tops the list of Labour MPs in vote for Shadow Cabinet

Yvette Cooper topped the poll last night as Labour MPs elected the "new generation" of senior frontbenchers who will serve under the party's new leader, Ed Miliband.

Joan Smith: Don't listen to the carping comments. The best man won

For the past couple of years, I've been telling anyone who would listen that the next leader of the Labour Party would be Ed Miliband. He's clever, warm and very modern, a fact that's sent much of the media into a state of comic incomprehension since his surprise victory over his elder brother last weekend. Who is this guy? Why isn't he married? Is he really an atheist? Ed hasn't been in frontline politics as long as David Miliband, which accounts for some of the bewilderment. But he's stood up to a bruising first week – everything from an invitation to propose to his partner on live TV to accusations of political fratricide – in a way that speaks volumes about his confidence and sense of purpose.

49 MPs join race for frontbench role

The battle for jobs in Ed Miliband's top team was joined in earnest tonight with 49 Labour MPs putting themselves forward.

Women could make up half of new Shadow Cabinet

Women are set to make up almost half of Ed Miliband's top team after he privately urged MPs to elect large numbers of female candidates to his Shadow Cabinet.

Family tensions set to continue as Mr and Mrs Balls vie for jobs

The scramble for a place in Ed Miliband's shadow Cabinet officially began yesterday, bringing with it the prospect of another tense family contest at the top of the Labour Party.

Snap! Why public figures are continually getting caught out by Steve Back

Mark Thompson is latest victim of scourge of Downing Street

Flint blames Brown for lack of women on leadership list

When Caroline Flint stormed out of Gordon Brown's Government last summer, complaining he used women colleagues as "female window dressing", her dramatic departure seemed to do more damage to her than it did to the former prime minister.

The Sketch: Oiling the wheels of our select committees

The Speaker had them all in fits with his intro. He had to slow down and pad out what he was saying with extra long words in order to finish speaking dead on the chime of Big Ben. It was Just A Minute with Nicholas Parsons, the place was roaring with laughter: good old John, no repetition or deviation from him!

Brilliant new women are Labour's USP

Joan Smith salutes Harriet Harman for wrongfooting the PM

Ed Miliband supports 50% female team

Ed Miliband has strengthened his pledge to promote women to senior political jobs by supporting a plan to ensure half of the party’s new shadow Cabinet team is female.

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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee