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Joan Smith

Joan Smith: Pete Doherty is not a child

I suppose it's one way of seeing whether short prison sentences work: the singer Pete Doherty was released on Wednesday after serving less than two months of a six-month sentence for possession of cocaine. It was his third spell in jail, and the judge who sentenced him remarked on his "appalling record", which includes at least 13 previous court appearances. Doherty has been arrested many times for drug and driving offences, and he could face another prison sentence after allegedly breaking into a record shop in Germany in March.

Joan Smith: Can't be too thin? Oh yes you can

When Samantha Cameron was pictured looking sombre during a show at London Fashion Week, insiders hastily explained that it's not the done thing to reveal emotion when you're sitting in the front row. A more obvious explanation for SamCam's expression is that she couldn't believe her eyes as the Swedish model Chloe Memisevic glided down the catwalk, looking like a woman who is barely acquainted with the concept of a proper meal. Apparently Memisevic is hugely in demand by labels such as Erdem, and that's more important than that she looks malnourished.

Joan Smith: When is a house not a home? When it's a council house

We know how strongly the Conservative Party feels about where people live. Home is very important to Tory politicians, so much so that their ambition is to lift the inheritance tax threshold so that families can more easily stay there. The proposal delighted Middle England when it was announced in 2007, and it's only the annoying circumstance of a financial crisis that's persuaded the present government to postpone it. Clearly it's unfair for families to be faced with selling much-loved homes after 20 years or more just to pay death duties. Stable communities where people know their neighbours and support each other are central to the Big Society.