'Gang rivals' stabs London schoolboy to death

A teenage boy was stabbed to death in an ambush by suspected rival gang members as he arrived at school today.

Inside Lines: As her free swim scheme sinks Jowell awaits call from 2012

I took my two young grandchildren swimming last week, expecting the customary free admission for under-16s and "senior citizens" at the local pool in Surrey. "Sorry," I was told. "You'll have to pay up like everyone else." It transpired they were making early implementation of the new Government's decision to scrap the scheme launched with such a fanfare by the former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell two years ago. Now it has been ditched as part of the £73m worth of cuts to the sports budget, and I suspect it is one which has given the incoming sports minister, Hugh Robertson, sleepless nights. He admits the decision "gives me no pleasure" but says it is a necessary contribution to the overall economy – though the saving, some £5m, seems a drop in an Olympic-sized pool. The initiative, which the Government claims has not delivered value for money, was one of Labour's key Olympic legacies yet curiously there has not been a peep of protest from Jowell. Is this because she has growing hopes of a role with 2012 – which Robertson and Seb Coe are currently discussing – and doesn't wish to rock the boat politically?

Is this a PM we see before us?

Mrs Thatcher is back – on stage at least – and she's not the only politician being reborn in the theatre. But, asks Michael Coveney, how wide is the gap between theatre and reality?

'Sons of Blair' do battle with 'Sons of Brown' for Labour's leadership

Burnham joins the race as left-winger McDonell admits he is unlikely to win mass support

Jowell warns Hunt over 2012 budget

Tessa Jowell, the former Olympics minister, has cautioned her successor over making any cuts to the budget for the London Games, a tone echoed by the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Defiant Brown admits he is fighting for survival

Gordon Brown admitted yesterday that he is now fighting for political survival, as he made a frenzied tour of 10 Labour constituencies in London to shore up the party's core vote, motivate activists and convey a sense of activity to the electorate.

The Last Word: Which of the big hitters will land knock-out blow?

Politicians have not given enough thought to sport despite its relevance to nation's health and finances

Tory hopeful arrested after scuffle at Prescott event

A would-be Tory councillor was arrested today after a scuffle at a John Prescott General Election campaign event.

Inside Lines: Game on as sport braces itself for post-election shake-up

Whoever wins the election, sport can expect some fundamental changes in the way it is governed. The two main parties have plans to "shake up" the system, notably in football where the possible appointment of a regulator to oversee the game is likely to be included in both Labour and Conservative manifestoes. Any appointee – Tory peer Lord Mahwinney, until last week the Football League's chairman, is said to be favourite – could be given the US-style title of Football Commissioner. Government-backed organisations such as UK Sport, Sport England and the Youth Sports Trust can also expect some serious revision, as can their overlords, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, particularly if the Tories gain power. A strong Labour influence in these bodies has been of some concern to the shadow sports minister, Hugh Robertson, who also pledges to restore Lottery funding for sport to its original level of 20 per cent. This has fallen from £460 million to £217m. The election will pose fresh questions about the role of the sports ministry. Labour undoubtedly would retain Tessa Jowell as Olympics minister but some feel that Gerry Sutcliffe will have to raise not so much his game but his profile to keep her company as sports minister. Any Lib-Lab pact in a coalition government might see Liberal spokesman Don Foster given the job. Should Labour win, Jowell is likely to be offered a strictly non-political role by Seb Coe as a 2012 ambassador. The increasingly impressive Robertson, who has twice turned down offers from David Cameron of promotion to a front-bench shadow ministry, hopes to combine the jobs of Olympics and sports minister. Politically overseeing the delivery of the 2012 Games should make this a Cabinet position.

Labour pledges local 'mutualised' services

plans to allow people to take over and run key local services are to be unveiled in Labour's election manifesto in an attempt to win back the trust of voters, ministers will announce today.

£6m for after-school Olympic sport clubs

Teenagers will get the chance to try out Olympic and Paralympic sports through a £6 million network of after-school clubs, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw announced today.

'Limited effect' as civil servants go on two-day strike

A trade union claimed 200,000 civil servants caused widespread disruption to public services yesterday as they began a two-day strike – but the notion was rejected by the Government last night. The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said court sittings were cancelled, Jobcentres could offer only limited services, border controls at ports and airports were disrupted and passport appointments were delayed.

Union and Government clash over civil servants' strike

Union leaders clashed with the Government tonight over the effect of a strike by civil servants.

Tory public sector workers plan announced

The Tories kept up an explicit push to woo Labour supporters today by renewing a pledge to give public sector workers the chance to form co-operatives to run services.

Inside Lines: What's the big idea? Political heavies square up over sport

Never mind that spiteful spat across the pond between the Pacman and Pretty Boy (which the cynics among us believe isn't a bad ploy to sell ever more pay-per-view when they do eventually meet), the tastiest big fight here over the coming months is likely to be a political punch-up between Labour and Conservative with sport as a pre-election battleground.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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