Arts and Entertainment

The Australian author of this lively collection of essays about language is an amiable guide to his subject. "Amiable" is, however, a stiff adjective to use when describing Julian Burnside, QC, who praises HW Fowler, author of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), and Samuel Johnson for allowing their personalities to colour their writings about words. He mocks philologists for their dryness, dismisses "cherished superstitions" that remain popular with conservative querulists and describes an attempt to ban the use of "mate" from the Australian parliament in appropriately matey style.

Film: It should have been a contender

The Big Picture

Friday Book: A radical churchman with a relevant message

Radical Churchman Edward Lee Hicks and the New Liberalism by Graham Neville (Clarendon Press, Oxford, pounds 50)

Parliament: The Sketch - Widdecombe's blue touchpaper is lit, everyone stands back...

HOME OFFICE questions began with fireworks - not the metaphorical kind, since the session as a whole was something of a damp squib, but the real sort, which had led Bill O'Brien, Labour MP for Normanton, to ask an anxious question about firework-related incidents. "I'm not anti- firework ..." he began, a large part of his anxiety clearly directed at the danger of sounding like a puritanical killjoy.

Tuesday Book: Yes, but what are the Liberals for?

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Liberalism by Conrad Russell (Duckworth, pounds 12.95)

Right of Reply: James Ferman

The former director of the British Board of Film Classification replies to a recent article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown headlined `Sex, politics and censorship'

Republicans try to halt defection by Buchanan

THE REPUBLICAN leadership is to hold an urgent meeting with Pat Buchanan, one of the party's better-known presidential hopefuls, to try to convince him not to defect to the Reform Party.

Set less homework, schools are told

TOO MUCH homework and too little after-school fun are bad for children, headteachers said yesterday.

Liberal Democrats have a noble tradition, but it needs redefining

The party will be on a hiding to nothing if it seeks to occupy territory Labour abandoned a decade ago

MPs plot to oust Blair loyalist

CRITICISM OF Tony Blair's leadership of the Labour Party grew yesterday when rebel MPs drew up plans to oust the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

Why must we hurt them?

A belief in equality does not give anyone the right to smash up their children's lives

Obituary: Jim Rose

JIM ROSE was a man of dazzling and diverse gifts - a member of the legendary Bletchley Park intelligence team in the Second World War, a journalist of distinction, creator single-handedly of an internationally influential institute dedicated to the development of freedom of the press, director and co-ordinator of a massive six-year survey of race relations in Britain, and joint founder of an institute to educate young people whom he nurtured to fulfil their promise.

Worrying about drugs while the house burns

The railway service between Swansea and Llanelli is not what it used to be. So just over two years ago, covering the general election for this paper, I found myself in a taxi travelling to the latter town, which is (or used to be) famous for tinplate and rugby. Beside the road was the blackened shell of a detached house which, in that part of the world, would be occupied by a headmaster or a bank manager.

Leading Article: Where to turn?

THE PARTY's still for turning. Peter Lilley's discovery last week that there are limits to what the free market can do - a discovery apparently endorsed by William Hague - has infuriated the heresy-hunters of the Tory right , but then the "Tory rebels", to use the media's flattering description of them, have been smashing the china ever since Margaret Thatcher was deposed in 1990. At the last election they proved the truth of H L Mencken's dictum that logic is the last refuge of the fool. Seeing that Blair was ahead in the polls, and noting that he had moved his party to the right, the rebels - the most powerful group in the party, with most of the press at their disposal - concluded that the only way to beat Labour was by moving to the right. QED. What they overlooked was that Labour had moved to the right from the left, and had thus moved to the centre, where the Volvo voters live; whereas any rightward move by the Tories could only take them further from the centre, and the voters, and closer to Bedlam. In the event, and against John Major's better judgment, they chose to move closer to Bedlam. The rest is history, or perhaps geography.

Letter: Voice of reason

THANK YOU so much for the ever-civilised, delightful Michael Bywater. I laughed like a drain at his column "Going, going, gone" (Review, 18 April), as he took our so-called "leaders" vigorously to task.

SNP is `hiding its separatist goal'

THE SCOTTISH National Party was yesterday accused of hiding its central aim of independence in an attempt to mislead voters in next month's elections to the Scottish Parliament.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee