Leading article: A party that has strayed from the centre

America's Republican Party is currently dominated by its anti-Washington, anti-establishment, right wing. Alas, the right has yet to find a contender to its taste to take on President Barack Obama. That, in a nutshell, is why the potential Republican field remains so fluid, barely eight months before Iowa's caucuses kick off the process to select the party's nominee for 2012.

Sarah Palin campaign gets a kick-start, but will she run?

Seen until now as amorphous and dull, the field of Republicans positioning themselves potentially to take on President Barack Obama in next year's presidential race was exhibiting some electricity yesterday thanks to a bus, some motorbikes and a certain former governor of Alaska.

Palin tour signals a presidential run

Sarah Palin will today embark on a campaign-style bus tour along the East Coast of the United States, sending a jolt through the Republican presidential contest and thrusting herself back into the nation's spotlight. The tour is the strongest signal yet that, despite falling approval ratings, she is considering a presidential bid.

Republicans turn to new hope after Fox chief Roger Ailes' 'attack' on Sarah Palin

Tim Pawlenty yesterday officially hit the campaign trail for the first time in the contest for the 2012 Republican nomination – a race in which the little-known former governor of Minnesotahas suddenly emerged, almost by default, as one of the leading contenders.

Bengal Lancer, 253 Kentish Town Road, London

On the trail of authentic curry, our critic heads to Kentish Town's Bengal Lancer...

Britain’s answer to Sarah Palin

Nadine Dorries, tory MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, is once again hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Mike Huckabee 'listens to his heart' and quits the presidential race

Mike Huckabee has announced that he will not seek his party's US presidential nomination in 2012, adding uncertainty to the race to pick a Republican challenger to President Barack Obama.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Sometimes government plots are actually worth believing in

If Osama bin Laden had been tried by a sober, international panel of jurists, we might have found out about US complicity in the making of him

Diary: In Nadine Dorries, Britain has found its answer to Sarah Palin

If ever Mid-Bedfordshire Conservatives consider deselecting Nadine Dorries, my advice is this: watch yourselves, blue rinses. The diarist's life is hard enough without losing the geyser of homespun common sense that keeps on gushing. Responses to the publicityphobe's masterstroke about teaching abstinence to 13-year-olds, but only girls, have been mixed – ranging from opponents' "She's raving bonkers" to "Well, yes, a bit doolally, bless her, but she means well," from fervent supporters. Yet easy as it is to dismiss the MP who defended expenses charges by initially claiming that 70 per cent of her blog is fiction, she is entirely consistent in advocating bespoke treatment for her gender. She passionately opposes women-only shortlists, for example, despite reportedly benefiting from Central Office pressure to pick a woman herself. A Mid-Beds MP she became and amid beds not entirely of the marital persuasion she has since been. Nadine insists that abstinence ruled her relationship with her new gentleman caller until he left his wife. Whether this is 70 per cent fiction – whether she went most of the way (upstairs outsidies, non-penetrative intimacy down below, etc) but stopped short – only she can tell us. And one day, when doing pre-show publicity for I'm A Celebrity, no doubt she will. But let no one try to get her out of here yet. We diarists need the Sarah Palin wannabe – and isn't Bristol's mom the go-to girl for teaching young women to say no? – almost as much as she needs us.

President Mom: On the stump with the Tea Party’s Michele Bachmann

She puts Sarah Palin's parenting skills in the shade, is the toast of the Tea Party and has galvanised right-wing America. But can Michele Bachmann go all the way? David Usborne joins the faithful in Arizona

So, what will Katie Couric do next?

The doyenne of female newscasters is set to quit CBS – and Piers Morgan should be worried

Diary: Savagery, moral depravity... Welcome to the world of 'Mad Mel'

What desperate moments for all among us who revere Melanie Phillips and the rigorous self-restraint she brings to her work. In the coming days, the Metropolitan Police must decide whether to prosecute her over a classically thoughtful posting on her Spectator-hosted blog.

Newt Gingrich stumbles out of starting gate in the race to lead Republicans

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, was expected last night to signal his intention to become a contender in the race for the 2012 Republican nomination while stopping short of taking the usual first official step of creating a presidential exploratory committee.

Why Jamie's knives are out for Sarah Palin

Chef brands US politician a 'Froot-Loop' over her criticism of childhood obesity drive

Jamie Oliver labels Sarah Palin 'a Froot Loop' over healthy food

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver called Sarah Palin a Froot Loop for criticising the Obama administration's healthy eating initiatives, and said getting healthy foods to kids is a civil rights issue.

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Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month