News The more modern town of Salford, where the latest investment of the English Cities Fund is expected to be announced

Could Britain’s chronic housing shortage be solved by using insurers’ assets? Jamie Dunkley and Russell Lynch report

Experts warn of a ‘notably strong’ property market and the creation of a new bubble

A bubble? No, this is a toxic housing crisis

The problem is, speeches won't build you a home - and neither will politicians

Labour MP Nick Brown's Christmas Card takes aim at Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, Grant Shapps (and a horse)

A Labour MP’s Christmas card has taken aim at Conservative Chairman Grant Shapp’s post on Buzzfeed with a tongue-in cheek design.

Old ties: Ed Miliband talks to former group Co-op chairman Len Wardle in Downing Street in 2010

Exclusive: Ed Miliband says David Cameron's Tories in the gutter as 2015 election strategist Lynton Crosby pushes party towards the politics of division

Labour fears dirtiest Conservative campaign in 20 years, as Attorney General withdraws attack on Pakistani community

Crispin Blunt has survived an attempt by worthies in his local party to get rid of him

Andy McSmith's Diary: Is the revolt against Crispin Blunt by his local party because he's gay? Yes and no

Some local ladies were offended by the way that Blunt’s marriage ended

The Home Secretary, Theresa May

Theresa May: BBC are destroying local newspapers

Home Secretary attacks broadcaster's ability to subsidise online coverage

Andy McSmith's Diary: Defenders of the vulnerable - salute the Commons’ dullest committee

In an obscure corner of the parliamentary process sits a committee called the Statutory Instruments Joint Committee.

Conservative party Co-Chairman Grant Shapps delivers his speech in the main hall on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference

Tory Party Conference Sketch: At conference, even Thatcher’s ghost gets a standing ovation

Daringly, the Conservative conference started with its inspirational highlight, Thatcher: the movie – a nostalgia vehicle which brought the audience to their feet in what may prove the one unequivocally enthusiastic standing ovation of the week. The iconic images included Mrs T be-goggled and all in white in the turret of a Challenger tank: a 20th century Boadicea as played by Isadora Duncan. Or the lady at her shimmering sexiest at a 1976 meeting in Finchley: “I stand before you in my red star chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up and my fair hair gently waved, the iron lady of the western world.” By this point you had begun to fear for the pulse rate of older party representatives.

Tories unveil £400m cash boost to extend controversial cancer drugs fund

Controversial drugs scheme to be extended despite criticism from doctors

Michael Gove has given his opinion in the energy price debate

Michael Gove says Ed Miliband right to attack energy companies

After Ed Miliband's price freeze pledge, David Cameron agrees action is needed to reduce the cost of energy

David Cameron benefits on welfare at Labour’s expense

Only 14 per cent think Ed Miliband could stop payments spiralling out of control, says poll

Frank Field: The former Welfare minister said the 'tax' was the most vicious since the poll tax

Tenants may beat ‘bedroom tax’ with new bathrooms

Hundreds of people who could fall victim to the “bedroom tax” are to benefit from new plans to convert spare bedrooms into bathrooms.

Jim Messina masterminded Barack Obama’s successful campaign to retain office

Cameron's new star advisor Jim Messina accused of involvement in 'the most homophobic political advert in US history'

The allegations date back to Messina's time as chief of staff to Max Baucus

The Tory chairman’s comments angered unions

We need to make it easier for firms to sack workers, claims Conservative chairman Grant Shapps

“There should be a way of saying to people ‘thank you very much, it hasn’t worked out but here’s a decent package for you to move on from this role,’” says top Tory

New benefit cap could be lowered by £6,000 a year if deemed a success, according to Treasury sources

Comments come as benefit claimants have amount they can claim capped at £500 a week for the first time

The Australian government has proposed these 'plain-packaged' cigarettes, which would be a world-first. Doctors in Britain have condemned the British government's delay in introducing similar plain packaging for tobacco products

Australian health minister Tanya Plibersek adds fuel to Lynton Crosby row over cigarette packaging

Australia’s Health Minister has accused the UK Government of dropping plans to introduce blank cigarette packaging due to pressure from tobacco companies and one of their former lobbyists now working for the Conservatives.

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L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
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Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect