News Office politics: Mr Ortikov’s troubles began as a British embassy employee

Guard who refused to be a spy says UK turned its back on him

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Whatever happened to the new politics?

Behind the coalition

With 11 days to go and polls suggesting a hung parliament, what secret deals are going on?

The main parties are preparing the ground for talks about the post-election balance of power

Blango's now running for office

Columba Blango has gone head to head with a heavyweight opponent before. On 6 May, come General Election Day, the 53-year-old Southwark borough councillor will be up against Harriet Harman in the fight for the parliamentary seat of Camberwell and Peckham. Having been the constituency MP for 27 years now, Ms Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, is rated as a 1-100 odds-on favourite with Ladbrokes. Still, Councillor Blango, the Liberal Democrat candidate, is a clear second favourite among the seven contenders, at 20-1 against. Back in 1980, when he took on Daley Thompson at the Moscow Olympics, he was not given an earthly chance.

Alan Watkins: Clegg's soft touch will be hard to sustain

The Lib Dem leader's success in the first debate resembles an old-style third-party win in a by-election

Liberal Democrats: Shaping up into a lean, mean, fighting machine

Nick Clegg's party is focusing its limited resources on a small number of high-profile and well-funded battles. Nigel Morris reports

MoD accused of cover-up after troop data reclassified

Figures on personnel shortages deemed secret after fears over security

Alan Watkins: My money's still on Mr Cameron

All this chatter about hung parliaments is just a sign of boredom in the political classes, who are hoping for a more exciting contest. The reality is, the Conservatives will win, and win by a comfortable margin

US envoy opposes Afghan troop increase

The US envoy in Afghanistan, a former Army general who once commanded troops in the country, has objected strongly to emerging plans to send tens of thousands of additional forces to the country, a senior US official said last night.

Mark Steel: Cut this nonsense about whose cuts are most 'savage'

Suddenly, no party thinks it can be serious unless it pledges to cut

Campbell backs Clegg over divisive tuition fee climbdown

Sir Menzies Campbell insisted last night there could be no "sacred cows" for the Liberal Democrats as he came to the defence of his successor, Nick Clegg, in the party split over university tuition fees.

Cable will be given front-row seat on election battlebus

The Liberal Democrat party hopes to exploit the popularity of its deputy leader, Vince Cable, at the general election by giving him a central role in the campaign and encouraging him to stray beyond his current economic remit.

More helicopters available says Defence Minister

The Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth today insisted that the Government was doing everything possible to increase the number of helicopters and armoured vehicles available to troops in Afghanistan.

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Prices correct as of 28 November 2014
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game