Arts and Entertainment David Blunkett thinks shows that mock politicians should be subject to tougher libel scrutiny

Programmes that mock politicians cross the line from satire to comment, he says

Obituary: Professor Sidney Pollard

SIDNEY POLLARD was an economic and social historian who commanded an international reputation, and made important contributions across the discipline.

Climbing video makes Peaks look too easy

IT LOOKS easy enough in the film. Forty feet up a rockface, seemingly standing on nothing, teenager Leo Houlding gingerly reaches for a huge, reassuring hold on the top of the crag, grabs it and skips lightly onto the grass above.

Changing blooms

Yet another real-life TV series about neighbours and their relationships is imminent - but this time, they all get on. Not only that, they've been building community spirit in their gardens. Michael Leapman joins in

Trying to clarify the linguistic confusion

RANK-AND-FILE officers in Greater Manchester demanded an explanation yesterday of precisely what their chief constable, David Wilmot, meant when he said there was institutional racism in the force.

Racism remark causes police fury

DAVID WILMOT, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, reiterated his belief yesterday that his force is plagued by institutional racism, an assertion that has infuriated - and mystified - his 7,000 officers.

Letter: No vote

IN HER column (4 October) Joan Smith noted that over one-quarter of the British electorate did not vote at the 1997 general election, and claimed that "we don't know whether they had more pressing engagements or simply couldn't be bothered to walk to the nearest polling station". The survey of several thousand voters conducted after every election (the British Election Study based at Nuffield College, Oxford) asks respondents if they voted and, if not, why not. Their answers range widely, from "couldn't be bothered" through "it would make no difference whoever is elected" to "work prevented me from voting" and "I was away from home". We published several studies of these responses after the 1992 election, concluding that non-voters can be divided into two groups: those who made a conscious decision not to vote; and those who would have voted if they could but were prevented from doing so.

Law: Our Learned Friend: Tough words on legal aid

AS THE Lord Chancellor led his judges into Westminster Abbey yesterday for the Opening of the Legal Year, he may have been in reflective mode. He may have remembered that, almost a year ago, he announced the withdrawal of legal aid from most civil disputes. He may have been reflecting that it has all proved more difficult than he had expected.

Music: Last Call

UNTIL THIS year's much-praised debut album and a Top 10 single with "Nancy Boy", Placebo had huge hype but small sales. The key to Placebo's rise lies in makeup-wearing front-man Brian Molko and lyrics about the darker side of life - cue a cult of eager fans and a part for Molko in Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine".

Obituary: Professor Alan Usher

ALAN USHER was one of Britain's leading forensic pathologists. He was the archetypal "Home Office pathologist" figure who maintained the traditions of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, John Glaister and Keith Simpson, in dress, mannerisms and, above all, cool professionalism.

Obituary: Professor Tom Kaiser

TOM KAISER was Professor of Space Physics at Sheffield University from 1966 until 1987. During this period he attracted high-quality scientists to Sheffield, building up an internationally renowned group in Space Geophysics.

Beat the age gap blues

Summer-borns can suffer educationally

Obituary: Professor Harry Armytage

HARRY ARMYTAGE had a distinguished career as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and later, as Professor of Education in Sheffield University, over a period of 32 years from 1948 to 1980.

Where is The Observer's guardian angel?

Donald Trelford, former editor of the `Observer', argues that the newspaper's circulation problems have been misleadingly reported

Politics: Hattersley speech on school choice

Parents should only be able to send their children to the school nearest their home, Lord Hattersley said last night.

Letter: Unsafe convictions

Sir: Your leading article (21 May) on the nurses convicted of murder in Saudi Arabia entirely misses the point. Over four hundred years ago Michel de Montaigne pointed out that it is always unsafe to convict persons of serious crimes on confessional evidence - especially when that evidence is uncorroborated. That even the latest series of miscarriages of justice in this country does not seem to have convinced the judiciary of this obvious fact is, I fear, only to be expected.
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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine