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Is there still a bit of Tony Blair left inside Ed Miliband? The question bugged me as I listened to the Labour leader doing what he does best – giving a speech to a predominantly sympathetic audience – in London today.

Manet to remain in UK after public campaign

A celebrated painting by Edouard Manet has been saved for the nation after an eight-month public campaign raised £7.8m to prevent it heading overseas. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford called it the "most significant acquisition" in its history.

The Dinner, By Herman Koch, trans. Sam Garrett

This riveting Dutch bestseller will leave its readers feeling thrilled, chilled or cheated.

The Fairy Queen, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

When Glyndebourne invited Jonathan Kent and Paul Brown to realise Purcell’s ‘semi-opera’ The Fairy Queen, it was with slight trepidation, as they had no idea how this amalgam of Purcell’s music and filletings from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream would go down.

The Night Wanderer, 1923-4, 90cm x 68cm by Edvard Munch

Munch Museum, Oslo

Mary Dejevsky: Even cold warriors like me miss the communists

The venue was a higgledy-piggledy alternative bookshop of the sort I – and probably you, too – thought had died a death in today's Britain.

In 'The Night Wanderer', Munch depicts himself with sightless eye sockets

Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye, Tate Modern, London

Few artists are so defined by a single image, but with no Scream pictures to steal the show, the Norwegian hypochondriac is seen in a new light

Scraps of paper? No, they're Matisse's last masterpiece

Previously unseen cut-outs by father of modern art donated to museums by his family

The Emperor's New Clothes: The Italians

The Italians who face England tonight think they are better dressed, better fed, better lovers. Simmy Richman begs to differ
Monet's Poplars on the Epte

Heads Up: Turner Monet Twombly

Paint the town red ... and yellow ... and blue ... and grey

The artist is played by Gilles Bourdos, but the film will show Guy Ribes’ hands as he paints the canvases

Guy Ribes: The forger making a good impression in the film world

Jailed for faking Renoirs, Guy Ribes returns to take key role in biopic of French master

Album: Richard Hawley, Standing at the Sky's Edge (Mute)

Taken on its own merits, Standing at the Sky's Edge is a classy, well-made record.

Illumination: David Gascoyne

Night Thoughts: The Surreal Life of the Poet David Gascoyne, By Robert Fraser

Many know about the death by drowning of WS Gilbert; others are aware that in 1933 Ernest Hemingway, incensed by a review, trashed the Paris bookshop in which he read it. Few could point to these incidents' one degree of separation. Such surprises regularly punctuate the soberly engrossing chronicle which Robert Fraser has created around the life of a poet whose modest fame has burned steadily, almost brightly, since his Thirties emergence as a teenage prodigy.

Staatskapelle Berlin/ Barenboim, Royal Festival Hall

The furtive opening bars of Mozart’s C minor Piano Concerto No. 24 were shrouded in a mellowness of tone that made them welcoming rather than darkly unsettling and as the well upholstered sound of the venerable Staatskapelle Berlin took hold we were cast back into an era of sound and style that was altogether “other”. And then - final confirmation - the piano entered.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

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