Joan Smith

Known for her human rights activism and writing on subjects such as atheism and feminism, Joan Smith is a columnist, critic and novelist. An Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a regular contributor to BBC radio, she has written five detective novels, two of which have been filmed by the BBC.

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Feeling the heat: David Cameron last week in Lanzarote

The parable of the PM and the jellyfish

Maybe that sting in the warm waters off Lanzarote was God’s way of telling Cameron that religion and politics don’t mix

Images on Women Who Eat on Tubes are intended to shame

The Facebook group 'Women Who Eat on Tubes' is not high art, it's harassment

Women should be able to use public transport – and eat – without having to worry about weirdos with camera phones

If I couldn't be Fanny, why not Sophonisba?

Traditional British first names are dying out, but what's interesting is the list of those at risk of extinction
Chief constables need to recognise that domestic abuse is a widespread problem

Fed up? Just listen to Stephen Fry's humanist secret of happiness

The actor sums up a non-religious approach to the big questions of life in just three minutes

Reaction to L’Wren Scott’s death took no heed of Mick Jagger’s grief, preferring to paint her as a harridan

Snared a rock star? They're asking for it

Insensitive reporting of the death of L'Wren Scott conforms to a pattern of media coverage of women who ‘get above themselves’

Benn's glowing obituaries prove the left, as well as the right, can be guilty of collective amnesia

Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong

He was wrong about the UK's membership of the EU, with some of his speeches from the 1970s sounding like a precursor of today's Ukip rhetoric

Gita Lama, a long-term nanny employed by Samantha Cameron, arrives for work at Downing Street

The Camerons' nanny isn't the scandal here...

The whole subject of domestic work is beset by prejudices about class, race and gender

PIE controversy: Harriet Harman has got this one wrong

If you are a public figure with left-of-centre politics, it is a question that can’t be avoided: how to deal with the Daily Mail? The paper is hysterically opposed to most things I believe in but it has millions of readers, which is why some kind of “Mail strategy” is essential.

New outlook: Dave Lee Travis, with his wife, after he was acquitted last week

A cultural change we once only dreamt of

The sexist culture of the Sixties and Seventies that has been exposed by high-profile sexual assault cases has become an embarrassment

William Roache is not guilty. Neither is his prosecutor

Reputation is a fragile commodity. If things had turned out differently, it's a safe bet that Nazir Afzal would be reading admiring profiles of himself this weekend. Afzal is the chief crown prosecutor for north-west England and the man who decided to charge the actor, William Roache, with "historic" sex offences. Not so long ago, Afzal was being hailed for his tenacity in going after the British-Asian men who groomed under-age girls for sex in Rochdale; he also secured "guilty" verdicts against the parents of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed, who murdered their daughter nine years earlier. Now Afzal stands accused of leading a "celebrity witch-hunt" against elderly actors, DJs and television presenters.

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Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn