Leading article: Mr Miliband is yet to answer all his doubters

The Labour leader has failed to deliver an alternative message with clarity
Alastair Campbell, a former No 10 spin doctor, suffers depression

PM's 'happiness plan' could lift Ed's spirits, says Campbell

Alastair Campbell has praised David Cameron for adopting "happiness" as a goal of government policy and urged Labour to embrace rather than deride it.

Tony Blair rails against ‘tax abusers who pay little or nothing while others pay more than their share’

Blair's company paid just £315,000 tax on income of more than £12m

When you have already spent half a million pounds on rent, £300,000 on furniture and £2.3m paying your staff, an extra £8m on unexplained “administrative expenses” might seem to be stretching credulity, but that is what Tony Blair has told Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, which as a consequence has received a rather smaller cheque from the former Prime Minister than it might have expected.

Minor British Institutions: Auld Lang Syne

What apter way than this for looking backwards and forwards through a dizzy mist of vigorously induced benevolence? A simple, forgiving tune; fine, dense and eminently slurrable dialect, as in: "We'll tak a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne", which translates as a goodwill drink (waught: draught) for old times long since (gone). Its origins are lost amid Rabbie Burns, strong drink and folk memory: some even claim the tune is English.

Leading article: Let sleeping hounds lie

As hunts gathered all over the country for their Boxing Day meets, the agriculture minister, Jim Paice, said that the ban on hunting wild animals with dogs "simply doesn't work". Some construed his words as a plea to bring forward the Government's promised parliamentary vote on repealing the controversial law. But it could have been just an elementary statement of fact. It would have been none the worse for that.

Arts review of 2011 - Television: You've no idea how much we liked watching

Mr Drew of Passmores school was my hero, in a year in which the reality show got a bit more real

The British and European flags flying side by side in Brussels

John Rentoul: Any PM would have done as Cameron did

Ignore the Eurosceptic cheers. It may turn out to have been wise to step away from the heat as the euro begins to meltdown

Sarah Sands: Charity is about more than money, but giving is a start

The BBC can be bashful about the place of Christianity in our national life: it recently sanctioned the substitution of the lovely terms Before Christ and Anno Domini by the thumpingly prosaic and Welsh examination boardesque Before Common Era and Common Era.

David Cameron

Andrew Grice: Plenty of talk about cracking down on lobbying – but still there's no action

The political parties may talk tough – but they are happy to take the lobbyists' money

Tony Blair with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Downing Street in 2006

The two faces of Tony Blair

The former PM's Faith Foundation champions religious freedom. So why is he doing deals with a despot who persecutes believers?

Steve Richards: Number Ten is disturbed by the debates sparked by e-petitions

Power to the People is always one of the most potent slogans in British politics. No leader would enter an election arguing in favour of less power for the people.

Diary: Be afraid, Sir Cliff, Tony Blair is the kiss of death

The CIA has explored many unconventional methods of sabotage, as Jon Ronson explored in The Men Who Stare At Goats. But reflecting on recent events, the mystery is why the agency neglects the one guaranteed method of destroying its enemies. All it need do is hire Mr Tony Blair to befriend them. Look at global villains of the age, and there he is, caught on camera winking, embracing and a-schmoozing. Mubarak, at whose Sharm el-Sheikh palace the Blairs enjoyed all those hols; Gadaffi, Mr Tony's partner in that manly hug; Berlusconi, on whose yacht he reposed when Casa Mubarak was taken ... and now Rupert Murdoch, for whom he vainly tried to fix a satellite deal with the Italian Stallion; and Rebekah Brooks, at whom we saw him waving coquettishly on a state visit to Wapping in footage replayed last week. If Cherie is a creature from Greek myth (half woman, half supermarket trolley), her soulmate is a supernatural hybrid spanning the ages. Mr T is the lovechild of Zelig and the Angel of Death. God knows who's next, but right now you wouldn't want to be Sir Cliff Richard.

Ed Miliband declares 'new centre ground'

Ed Miliband has declared a "new centre ground" in politics after Tony Blair warned that the Labour Party should not lurch to the left.

Village People: The artful dodger

The Tory MP Michael Fallon demonstrated on Newsnight on Thursday evening why David Cameron appointed him deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital