News In a highly unusual move, Ed Miliband has induced the Daily Mail to grant him the right of reply to an article attacking him

In a highly unusual move, Ed Miliband has induced the Daily Mail to grant him the right of reply to an article attacking him. It is a right that  newspapers are understandably reluctant to concede, lest their columns be filled with nothing but the wailing replies from wronged politicians. But there again, it is unusual to attack a politician by going for his dead father.

The Big Society in crisis: Are the wheels coming off the PM's Big Idea?

Major report says cuts are undermining the Tories' flagship policy as the public struggles to understand what it means

Steve Richards: Our republican conspiracy of silence

No public figure that governs, or hopes to govern can go near the issue. It would be the end of their careers

No 10 under Cameron: The three acts of the PM's leadership

He wanted to restore cabinet government and bring order to Labour 'anarchy'. But not everything has gone to plan

Battle of the Big Society: Tories go on the offensive

It's been a bad week for the PM's pet idea. Now he has to prove it's more than just motherhood and apple pie

Can the Big Society work?

In the first part of a three-day debate, our chief political commentator Steve Richards examines the genesis, development and ultimate misjudgment of a Coalition policy that, he argues, is doomed to fail

Steve Richards: The dangers of shock and awe politics

In its first six months the Coalition has accelerated with a dizzier speed than Thatcher in 1979 – and on more fronts

Matthew Norman: Ken's sacking must surely be on Cameron's Christmas list

The autocratic Mrs Thatcher would have fired Clarke in an instant for brazenly challenging her on fixed sentences for knife crime

Steve Richards: Power to the people is a bold idea, but do people want the power?

The degree to which the reforms will deliver improved public services cannot be easily discerned. In some ways that is the point

BBC chief defends impartiality after No 10 meeting

The director general of the BBC today defended the corporation's impartiality after it was disclosed he met a senior government aide in Downing Street to discuss coverage of the Government's spending cuts.

Peter York: Cameron's not as posh as you think he is

If you live and work in Big London, the smart centre, it's easy to think that everyone you know - everyone 'middle class' - earns £100,000 and deserves it

Steve Richards: But what if the Big Society doesn't work?

While the over-riding motive is not directly connected to our economic situation, lack of resources is why the vision is so limited

Bruce Anderson: Creative tension is binding the coalition

Civil servants would rather work for a rude but effective minister than for a courteous and weak one
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
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Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
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A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'