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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.

Jerome Taylor: Religious freedom is not an absolute right

At the heart of this  legal and moral debate is the question of  competing rights

The shocking truth about Ukip? There's nothing remotely shocking about the overdue implosion of these frothing, neo-feudalist cowboys

A party that's always been a coalition of turbo-Thatcherite libertarians and swivel-eyed little Englanders is finally being exposed to public ridicule - and inevitably so

Another Ukip public figure leaves party amid same sex marriage row

Another Ukip public figure has been forced out of the party after expressing support for gay marriage, days after the party sacked their youth leader, who spoke out on the issue on national radio.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage

Exclusive: So much for the libertarians! How Ukip sacked me after I said I support equal marriage

The former leader of the youth wing of Nigel Farage's party has left his post after disagreeing with party policy. They say he's trouble. Here's his version of events

Nigel Farage

Ukip are by no means libertarian

"Right-wing" is the only appropriate description for Nigel Farage's party

Sex for tuition fees: Beware the student sponsors after a dirty bargain

Higher fees mean students have to go to extraordinary lengths to raise money. This will be a step too far for most, however

I used to be a libertarian. But then someone stole my gold clubs.

Wanting the state to intrude less in our personal lives is all well and good until a lack of CCTV cameras lets a man walk off with your prized belongings

Postcard from... San Francisco

“Excuse me, do you have a light?” To a European, such a question asked in crowded bar, does not compute.

How did an ethical issue become a political one?

There is no obvious reason why so many Conservative MPs should be committed to restricting access to abortion. But they are, and there have been numerous attempts by Tory backbenchers to weaken the 1967 Abortion Act. In recent years, Nadine Dorries and Ann Winterton have been the standard-bearers in a campaign which goes back to 1977, when William Benyon introduced a Bill that would have significantly undermined the 10-year-old Act.

Ann Romney meets the press on the campaign flight to Tampa: she also gave them biscuits

Ann Romney gets to work… with home-baked cookies

Republicans hope wife can 'humanise' their candidate as she reveals his softer side

Diary: Why are we drowning in rivers of praise for Powell?

There is a campaign under way to rescue the reputation of Enoch Powell, whose centenary it is today. In the Daily Mail, Powell's biographer, Simon Heffer, calls him "a man of conspicuous moral greatness". To Peter Oborne, in The Daily Telegraph, he was "a man of extraordinary integrity". The former MP Paul Goodman, on ConservativeHome, hails Powell, as "the finest political writer of my lifetime". Even Iain Duncan Smith joined in to praise him for battling against the UK's membership of the EU.

Mitt Romney's last rival's campaign is 'effectively over'

Ron Paul, Mitt Romney's only remaining rival for the Republican nomination in the US presidential race, said last night he would stop spending money on the 11 remaining primary elections, prompting speculation that his campaign is, effectively, over.

Rick Santorum wins crucial primaries in the deep south

Rick Santorum scored an upset double primary triumph in the deep south last night, guaranteeing that the Republican presidential race will drag on for weeks if not months yet. His victories in Alabama and Mississippi deliver a fresh jolt to the limping front runner Mitt Romney, and raise pressure on Newt Gingrich, his rival for the conservative vote, to drop out and thus set up a one-on-one Santorum-Romney battle for the Republican nomination to face president Obama in the autumn.

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Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific