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

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

Inside Westminster

Somalia: Famine risk recedes as aid gets through

Conditions for those affected by famine in Somalia have improved dramatically and unexpectedly in recent weeks, with the number of people now at imminent risk of starvation falling by two-thirds, according to the UN.

'Generous' Britons back foreign aid rise

Poll vindicates Cameron's stance despite the cuts at home and rumbles from within Tory ranks

Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality, By Theodore Dalrymple

What sentimental fools we are

Fears that Eritrea may be hiding its famine victims from the world

Concerns are mounting of a possible hidden famine in Eritrea while international aid agencies scramble to fill a "black hole" in information coming out of the isolated Horn of Africa nation.

General urges Britain to aid Afghanistan

The UK's military deployment in Afghanistan is not "the most important part of our contribution" and is only the "supporting element to wider governance and development operations" in the country, the head of Britain's military has stressed.

Adrian Hamilton: We're near to the limit of charitable giving

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A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
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Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
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Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?