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John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning. Click here and 'like' to receive updates on Facebook

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Was JFK killed because of his interest in aliens?, Eagle Eye

Was JFK killed because of his interest in aliens?

Every time I am tempted to call a halt, or at least a pause, in the series of Questions to Which the Answer is No, the Daily Mail frustrates me.
A corker. Including the written-by-robot sub-headline:
Secret memo shows president demanded UFO files 10 days before death
Number 591.
Thanks to Niall Gooch.
Picture from Steam Shovel Press.

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 19 April 2011 at 11:14 am

Purple prose, Eagle Eye

Purple prose

Oh well. It’s doomed then. The Purple Book, a collection of essays by Labour modernisers echoing The Orange Book of Liberal Democrats, will have a theme, according to Rachel Sylvester in The Times (pay wall):
The overarching theme will be the need to move away from reliance on a big State and redistribute power to individuals [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 19 April 2011 at 10:12 am

Footnotes to Genius, Eagle Eye

Footnotes to Genius

I am again dipping in and out of Christopher Hitchens’s memoir, Hitch-22, after a pause to digest the sudden succession of political memoirs (Mandelson, Blair, Campbell vol 2, Richards, Cowley and Kavanagh, Seldon and Lodge).
I have come across several gems, often in footnotes.
Exhibit 1.
The Hitch’s first proper job in journalism was as Social Science Correspondent [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Monday, 18 April 2011 at 5:46 pm

Is Sugar Toxic?, Eagle Eye

Is Sugar Toxic?

A question asked by the New York Times. Number 589 in the series. Along with number 590:
Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?
At a time when, as Peter Lattman pointed out (via Alex Massie), the top four most emailed NYT headlines were all questions.
And one of the articles begins with the words “Dr Levine’s magic underwear”.

By | Eagle Eye | Monday, 18 April 2011 at 4:05 pm

Really interesting point about AV, Eagle Eye

Really interesting point about AV

I give up, when such a talented and intelligent a statesman as John Reid is reduced to spouting rubbish about electoral reform (“above all AV is not British”) just because he is on the same platform as the Prime Minister doing the same.
The column I wrote in November pronouncing the death of the Alternative Vote [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Monday, 18 April 2011 at 1:17 pm

The real reason Russia lost the Cold War, Eagle Eye

The real reason Russia lost the Cold War

Lovely trailer for Phil Craig’s The Secret History of Eurovision, on Channel 4, Saturday 7 May.
The Soviet Union’s attempt to imitate the Eurovision Song Contest, Intervision, was hampered by lack of technology. Because most Soviet citizens didn’t have a telephone, voting was done by asking viewers to switch on their lights when their favourite song [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 17 April 2011 at 6:03 pm

“The most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”, Eagle Eye

“The most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”

Just because we can, I thought you might like to read Winston Churchill’s contribution to the debate on the Alternative Vote in 1931, in which he said:
The decision of 100 or more constituencies, perhaps 200, is to be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates.
In The Independent on Sunday today, [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 17 April 2011 at 12:06 pm

Was Prince William a frog in a past life?, Eagle Eye

Was Prince William a frog in a past life?

Number 587 in my series of Questions to Which the Answer is No was asked by Save the Frogs, and was also awarded a prize by The Independent on Sunday for the Most Spurious Use of the Royal Wedding in a Press Release:
“Was Prince William a frog in a past life?” asked Save the Frogs in [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 17 April 2011 at 11:21 am

“No” campaign extends lead to 6 points, Eagle Eye

“No” campaign extends lead to 6 points

Our ComRes poll in The Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror tomorrow shows the No vote opening up a six-point lead in the referendum campaign.
Since January we have asked the official question, as it will appear on the ballot paper on 5 May:
At present, the UK uses the “first past the post” system to elect [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Saturday, 16 April 2011 at 7:30 pm

Did Marlene Dietrich plot to murder Hitler?, Eagle Eye

Did Marlene Dietrich plot to murder Hitler?

Now that the Daily Mail has professionalised its operation, its contribution this morning, number 586 in my series of Questions to Which the Answer is No, is as fine an example of the genre as one could hope to see.
And, as if to illustrate the flexibility of the device, it follows number 585, asked last [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Saturday, 16 April 2011 at 10:50 am

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