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

Cameron defends arms sales in push for growth

David Cameron declared yesterday that enterprise was morally right and defended his controversial campaign to sell British-made arms to regimes around the world with poor records on democracy and human rights.

Minister denies international aid priority claims

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has rejected claims that the Government is putting Britain's security concerns ahead of aid priorities by trimming the number of countries which will receive assistance from the UK.

16 countries to lose cash from Britain

Sixteen countries including Angola, Kosovo, Bosnia and Vietnam are to lose British aid, Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, will announce tomorrow.

Burma benefits as UK targets aid money on fight for democracy

British aid to Burma – the poorest country in South-east Asia – is to be sharply increased in an effort to help the country's most beleaguered and to support the struggle for democracy.

£2m of aid money was used to fund Pope's visit

Nearly £2 million intended to be spent helping development in the world's poorest countries was diverted to pay for the Pope's visit to Britain. The Department for International Development gave £1.85m to the Foreign Office to help to pay for the costs of Pope Benedict's visit to England and Scotland last September.

Leading article: A broken nation's toxic import

The last thing Haiti needs right now is the return of Baby Doc, the former dictator whose rule in the Seventies and Eighties is remembered for its corruption and the brutality of his private militia, the Tonton Macouts. The people of the island, and the foreign diplomatic community, have been stunned by the unexpected return of the former playboy-despot Jean-Claude Duvalier to his Caribbean homeland for the first time since he was deposed in a coup in 1986.

Wildfires: The one deadly enemy Israel was unprepared to fight

All too used to honing its wartime prowess against military enemies, Israel was still struggling last night to contain a peacetime enemy, the worst wildfire – and one of the biggest natural disasters – in its history.

Charity donations still suffering from recession

Donations to charity increased last year but still remain well below their pre-recession levels, research showed today.

Leading article: Faint hope for a benighted land

It is unfortunately not unusual for an election to be held in adverse circumstances; recent votes in Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind.

Treasury urged to loosen politically driven 'ring-fenced' spending plans

Excessive, politically driven "ring-fencing" distorts government spending priorities, according to a report on the Comprehensive Spending Review published by the Treasury Committee today.

Gordon Brown delivers veiled swipe at Tony Blair

Gordon Brown issued a thinly veiled swipe at Tony Blair today as he hit out at politicians who fail to keep promises to step down from office after two terms.

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, By Romeo Dallaire

The life of a child abducted and forced to act as a combatant in a rebel army in contemporary central Africa could not be more hellish. Former child soldiers, some taken captive as young as nine, report being drugged and then forced to slaughter their own parents. Deprived of food and sleep, completely dependent on their captors for survival, they undergo a crude form of basic training before being handed light weapons and thrown into combat. If they don't die of disease or from their wounds or landmines, they are easy prey for their enemies.

DJ Taylor: Britain has shot up the corruption league – call for Wallace and Gromit!

The President of Afghanistan has been surprisingly candid about trousering Iranian cash – but it's no good us pointing the finger at dodgy foreigners

Meet the godfather of the cuts

Canada's Paul Martin eradicated his country's deficit by harsh reductions in public spending. Matt Chorley meets the coalition's inspiration
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A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
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Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
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Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
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'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
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Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
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Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
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Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam