Pick of the week: Sturgeon’s clever tricks

Here's our five most-read articles of the last seven days…

5 – Comment: They're smuggling the snoopers' charter into law

The bid by a quartet of peers to get the snoopers' charter on to the statute book caused serious controversy this week. And although their 17-page amendment was eventually withdrawn, the debate it triggered underlined once again just how serious the threat to our freedoms. Alastair Sloan wrote: "When policymakers tell us that the threat from jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria is unprecedented, should we take them on their word? If we do it might require an unprecedented surrender of our hard-won civil liberties."

4 – Alan Milburn's personal interest in resisting a public NHS

When shadow health secretary Andy Burnham gave a speech declaring it was time to end the Tories' "market experiment in the NHS", he wouldn't have expected such a blistering attack from his own side. Former New Labour big beast Alan Milburn warned of a "fatal mistake" risked by Labour's approach. His intervention caused big headlines – but needs to be understood for the context in which it took place. Milburn's interests make him a far from impartial commentator on the private sector and the NHS.

3 – The mystery of Chris Grayling's expenses

Why will the justice secretary not explain away his expenses? The scandal is now six years old, but Grayling still faces questions about whether he did as he said he would. His office insists he kept his promise to his constituents. So why won't they offer any proof of this when asked?

2 – Home Office clings to the raft as international drug consensus crumbles

The US anti-legalisation lobby is now in such a retreat that it is redefining what constitutes acceptable behaviour in the war on drugs. This, it now turns out, includes the legalisation of entire categories of narcotics. It poses a big opportunity for British politicians to change their own stance, too – but none of them – even Lib Dem Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone – are taking the opportunity.

1 – David Cameron declares war on Scotland

The SNP's latest clever political move, pledging to vote to protect the NHS in England, is now over a week old, but readers in Scotland remain rather worked up about our take on it. The problem for unionists is that David Cameron took the bait of Nicola Sturgeon's positioning: his complaints about 'fairness' don't look too clever, and in the long-run may end up hastening the nationalists' cause. In the meantime, the comments on the bottom of this article now reveal something about the state of the debate north of the border. They even include the word "ocht"… which you don't see very much in Westminster.