Pick of the week: Je suis Charlie

Five: New plain packs 'evidence' is worthy of a laugh and little else

We were less than impressed with the evidence on offer in a new report intended to nudge the UK toward imposing plan packs on cigarettes. The evidence is murky and the jury is still firmly out. But there is one interesting mental phenomenon: consumers found their chosen brand tastes worse once you remove the packaging. Even if it doesn't reduce smoking, plain packs might show us what fools branding makes of us.

Four: Angela Merkel is saving the British economy

Slipped in during a press conference hardly anyone was paying attention to – due to the Charlie Hebdo massacre – was an admission that Downing Street may be dropping one of its key immigration policies. Cameron preceded the comment by reminding everyone how he had always been clear on the issue. It's a sure sign the prime minister is about to pull a fast one. Our blog recognised that these U-turns – the result of Angela Merkel's stern approach to her UK counterpart – are saving the British economy from the its own government.

Three: MoJ pulls the wool over its own eyes in G4S and Serco contracts

Bleak signs for anyone hoping government departments were getting a handle on private contracts: it appears they don't even know how often firms like G4S or Serco are tendering. It's part of a commercial process which experiences very little scrutiny, with faith in the efficiency of the private sector trumping a concern for the taxpayer.

Two: George Osborne has a point about Labour's spending plans

We experience a rare moment of generosity for the British chancellor over his assessment of proposed Labour spending. The opposition has protested many of the cuts of the last few years without actually saying it would reverse them. The hypocrisy is staggering, whichever side of the debate you are on, and it has won them few friends.

One: Charlie Hebdo attack: This is not about Islam – it's about free speech

Our piece on the tragic events in Paris this week warned that anti-Islamic figures on right and left would use the attack to cement a false narrative of a battle between authoritarian Islam and a liberal West. But it also warned that images of the prophet were a valid part of satire and that suffering offence was an important part of living in a free society. It was an emotional week for everyone concerned. We don't know how severe the damage has been yet.