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.

First Obama, now Cameron embraces 'nudge theory'

Andy McSmith reports on the doctrine sweeping Downing Street

Friedrich Hayek: Darling of the right is reborn in the USA

The uncompromising anti-statism of Friedrich Hayek has won a new following among Republicans. Stephen Foley reports

Retailers argue against rise or extension of VAT

Retailers urged the Government not to raise VAT or extend it to currently exempt items, such as food, in this month's emergency Budget.

Hodd, By Adam Thorpe

Ridley Scott might have reinvented Robin Hood for the 9/11 age, but in the revisionist hands of Adam Thorpe, "Robert Hodd" was little more than a common thief living by a weird set of home-brewed libertarian beliefs. It is Thorpe's somewhat complicated conceit that he has come across the early 20th-century translation of the memoirs of an elderly monk, who as a 14-year-old minstrel, was captured by Hodd and taken to live in the "thick wild forest".

Debategraph: Dissecting the Conservative - Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement

As part of The Independent’s visual mapping of the election and its aftermath, we have broken down the Conservative - Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement into an interactive visual graph, that lets you comment on and rate each of the proposals.

Letters: Forming a coalition government

A century-old plan for pact

Platini blames 'liberalism' for Portsmouth problems

Uefa president Michel Platini has criticised what he calls the "liberalism" in Premier League financial regulations which he claims led to Portsmouth going into administration.

Three's a crowd: How the unexpected rise of a third contender broke the cosy two-party system

History doesn't repeat itself, but as the old adage says, it does rhyme. The rhyming is now clamorous and incessant. If the Liberal Democrat surge that followed Nick Clegg's victory in the first televised leaders' debate continues, we shall be in spitting distance of a hung Parliament. Of course, it may not continue. The Clegg boom may peter out; residual "Labservative" tribal loyalties may reassert themselves. But when all the caveats have been entered, there is no doubt that the two old parties, the ugly sisters of British politics, have had the fright of their lives. For old SDP-ers like me, it has been a moment to relish.

Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, By Eric Kaufmann

This may come as a shock to secular sensibilities. Religious fundamentalism is set to bury the ghost of secularism. Secular liberalism is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions and the fundamentalists are about to take over the world. This is, says Eric Kaufmann, who teaches politics at University of London, not necessarily a bad thing. It may make us more secure, more grounded in our identities and communities, and much happier.

Phillip Blond: You Ask The Questions

The Director of ResPublica and author of Red Tory, answers your questions, such as Are you just a Marxist in denial? And do you want to be an MP?

Book Of A Lifetime: The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, By John Gross

It would be difficult to imagine the average book group sitting down to ponder The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters (1969) for it is about some highly obscure people. But while FJ Furnivall, Sir John Squire, Churton Collins and Christopher Cauldwell – to take a few of its more representative ornaments – may not be household names, it is a mark of John Gross's achievement that by the end of 300 or so scholarly pages you end up regarding them as figures of overwhelming interest, fit to justify possibly the most eye-catching of the sub-categories in Thomas Carlyle's On Heroes and Hero-Worship: "The hero as man of letters".

Charles Leadbeater: This is one utopian vision that need not be so far from reality

The Diggers of 1649 show us the way to tackle inequality
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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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
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick