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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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The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
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Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

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Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?