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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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