The morning catch-up: Michael Fabricant, Denis Healey’s son, ‘offensive language’, and more

The comment from around the web that has caught our our man's eye today

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The Independent Online

1. Wonderful Question To Which The Answer Is No asked by Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, this morning: “Did Adam and Eve speak Dutch?”

It is a feature about Johannes Goropius Becanus (1519-1572), a doctor and amateur linguist, who believed that the name Adam derived from the Dutch compound Haat-Dam (Dam-Against-Hate) and Eve is Eeuw-Vat (The-Eternal-Barrel). Thanks to James Vaughan.

2. How politics and Twitter work. Michael Fabricant, the Tory MP who said our very own Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was so annoying he wanted to punch her in the throat, has now apologised again and is filled with remorse: “In just 140 characters, I seemed to have undone a 20-year voting record.”

3. I have long thought that Denis Healey, now 96, would have been a great prime minister, and featured him in one of my Top Tens for The Independent on Sunday last year, of Best Prime Ministers We Never Had.

Now his son Tim, 65, has written an article for The Independent saying that he disagrees. He says his father would have been a “rubbish prime minister”. Partly because he is a “typical Virgo”.

4. Nick Cohen argues in The Spectator that changing the language to avoid offending people is pointless - the new words simply become insults in turn. He says that, since the Spastics Society changed its name to Scope, children now call each other scopeys. It is true that gay, having been an attempt to use positive language, became an playground insult, and some people say that “specials” (for “special needs”) has too.

5. Important: David Blunkett's literacy hour in primary schools was the biggest single cause of school improvement, taking a long time since 1999 to 2003 to feed through to secondary school exam results, according to a study of why London state schools has gone from worst to best in the country over the past decade and a half (although the report does not explain why this should have benefited London disproportionately)

6. Finally, thanks to Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry:


John Rentoul is the author of Questions To Which The Answer is No