One of the minor joys of the brave new electronic age is the ease of buying the UK papers abroad. Not because I desperately want to keep up with the British news – I mean, really, whatever the fuck David Cameron has just said about the NHS can wait a couple of weeks, by which time everyone will have forgotten about it anyway – but because it’s nice to be able to sit in a cafe somewhere with a caffe solo and read the paper. I suspect that’s the key truth for anyone wanting to run a newspaper; no one is buying it to learn what’s happening in the world. We have TV, radio and internet for that. What we want is something that will keep us occupied, entertained, and very gently stimulated for about three-quarters of an hour. In the long run, incredible ground-breaking scoops that shake governments are less important to your circulation figures than a good crossword and some mildly amusing columnists.

None of which offers much incentive for journalists to do the useful job of keeping politicians on their toes.

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