News High ideals: Labour has built around 400 homes in each of its local authority areas since the election

Conservative councils build only half as much affordable and social housing

Outside the Box: Shorts cited as Bury fail to bring home bacon with black pudding

As excuses go, Bury's reason for dropping two vital home points in a 1-1 draw with Port Vale last weekend was – like the team in League Two – right up there.

Animal rights activists lose battle to ban badger cull

Court rules animals can be killed in Wales in bid to prevent spread of bovine TB

Leading article: The hunt for MPs

The news, which we report today, that hunt supporters plan to mobilise supporters in the election campaign to unseat Labour friends of foxes, conjures up a fascinating image of men in Barbours, brandishing whips and tally ho-ing through various towns and villages in hot pursuit of the 140 MPs on their electoral hit list.

'Dog tax' proposal ditched a week after it was mooted

The Government has ditched proposals for a "dog tax" that would force owners to insure against their pets attacking people barely a week after the idea was first floated.

Ashok Kumar 'died from natural causes'

Labour MP Ashok Kumar, who was found dead in his home, died from natural causes, police said today.

Staff announcement: will the President come to Checkout One

Tom Peck joins Jacob Zuma on his historic visit – to Sainsbury's in Greenwich

Georgina Downs: Britain's Erin Brockovich

Georgina Downs is fighting to stop farmers spraying toxins on crops. Can she win?

Village People: 06/02/2010

Jumpy Brown blots the copybook

*One of the many old-fashioned touches about the House of Commons is the row of three Commons clerks who are always there during Prime Minister's Questions, seated in wigs and gowns in front of the Speaker.

Is it time to chuck out sell-by dates?

Half of us throw food away when the label says, while the rest just sniff it and see. The result is confusion, waste – and a booming new market in out-of-date produce.

Leading article: Save the elephants

Twenty years ago we might have hoped that the African elephant, whose numbers were crashing disastrously, had been saved by the worldwide ban on the ivory trade brought in by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Some hope. The ban has twice been undermined by big sales of ivory by African states which the CITES has seen fit to allow, and illegal trading and the poaching which feeds it are resurgent and in many countries once more pushing elephants to the brink.

Hilary Benn: A warming planet demands a new approach to farming in Britain

Prioritising the protection of our soil, our water, our plants and our biodiversity is something that makes sense today. The combined effect of a changing climate and a global population that will grow to nine billion in the next 40 years defines why food production and environmental sustainability are interdependent and indivisible. We must again adapt as humankind to survive and prosper.

Leading article: Not a class act

David Cameron may well be wishing he had never made a commitment to repeal the 2004 ban on fox-hunting. A bone thrown to the Tory right, a section of his party whose concerns he has often ignored, the pledge is in danger of coming back to haunt him.

Free lunches handed out to highlight food waste

With countries stalling over policies in Copenhagen, one easy way to cut down on emissions seems rather obvious - eat food more carefully. Recent estimations show that 10 per cent of the worlds richest countries greenhouse gas emissions come from growing food which is never eaten.

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Independent Travel
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona from £629pp
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Prices correct as of 12 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

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
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas