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

International Studies
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Mickey Rourke celebrates his victory against opponent Elliot Seymour
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Former ‘Daily Mirror’ editor Piers Morgan
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Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
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Actor Burt Reynolds last year
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Johnny Handle, Northumberland, Ted Relph, President of Lakeland Dialect Society, and Sid Calderbank, Lancashire, founder of the National Dialect Day
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The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
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Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
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The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
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