ERRORS & OMISSIONS
Here is a story you will never read in this or any other newspaper: "President Obama has issued a stern warning to Iran to abandon its ambition to acquire a nuclear deterrent."
It is an iron law of journalese usage that every nuclear power in the world has a nuclear weapon - except one. Britain alone occupies a higher moral plane, and deploys not a weapon but a deterrent. Nuclear weapons are very horrible, but nobody, surely, ever died a ghastly death as a result of being hit by anything so innocuous, so reassuringly dull, as a deterrent. It must be all right for us to have one of those.
You can see why admirals, politicians and mandarins would like us all to think like that, but newspapers ought to call a spade a spade. In the case of British nuclear weapons they never do.
A dramatic example of this surrender to political cant appeared on Thursday's front page. The headline read: "Top military chiefs go cold on nuclear deterrent." In the story below, "deterrent" or "deterrence" appeared five times, "weapons" only once - and that was in a quotation.
This kind of hypocrisy is not new. Remember the pronouncement of the enigmatic Mr Baldwin to the reporter William Boot in Evelyn Waugh's Scoop (1938): "You should ask me whether I have any message for the British public. I have. …