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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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Will Cameron sanction a campaign that is hostile to his deputy?, Eagle Eye

Will Cameron sanction a campaign that is hostile to his deputy?

My column for The Independent on Sunday features number 499 in the series of Questions to Which the Answer is No, which was asked by Tim Montgomerie at the New Statesman last week:
An all-out attack on Clegg’s screeching U-turn on tuition fees may be the best chance of keeping first-past-the-post, but will Cameron sanction a [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 6 February 2011 at 10:39 am

Pedantrys, Eagle Eye

Pedantrys

I am pleased to report that the Lord Keleny, Pedant in Chief, has ruled in my favour on the vexed issue of a plural smart phone. It’s BlackBerrys, not BlackBerries. As what I wrote, here and here.
But I had forgotten, if I had ever known, about the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Update: And it also [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Saturday, 5 February 2011 at 4:46 pm

Jackboot of New Labour illiberalism lifted at last, Eagle Eye

Jackboot of New Labour illiberalism lifted at last

Only now catching up with business from last week: the statement by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, on counter-terrorism powers on 26 January (right).
It was quite widely reported, including before the event by me, that control orders would be renamed and made less effective. As it turned out, they were simply renamed (Terrorism Prevention and [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Friday, 4 February 2011 at 10:37 pm

Can complexity theory explain Egypt’s crisis?, Eagle Eye

Can complexity theory explain Egypt’s crisis?

We’re a bit late in getting to number 500 in my series, but here is number 498. Asked by New Scientist.
Thank you to Caspar Melville.
It joins another series that I inadvertently started this week, of Unexpected Historical Questions about the Egypt Crisis. Well, I say I started it, but it was started by a correspondent of mine [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 7:45 pm

Was Mona Lisa a man?, Eagle Eye

Was Mona Lisa a man?

Number 497 in my inexhaustible series of Questions to Which the Answer is No is asked by the Daily Mail:
Was da Vinci’s young male apprentice the model for that famous enigmatic smile?
Actually, the Mail online article says “model model”, but I have edited it for them, free of charge.
Right: Not the Mona Lisa. The Mail [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 5:57 pm

Are we any closer to the truth?, Eagle Eye

Are we any closer to the truth?

The Rebuttal Service can put its feet up for a while, as we wait for the Iraq Inquiry to draft its report, although I should expect the LBLM&C* to find ever more excuses to recycle 101 ways of saying “We didn’t agree with the war”, even though it was eight years ago and no one [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 3:02 pm

Straw: I tried to stop crazed warmonger, Eagle Eye

Straw: I tried to stop crazed warmonger

Thus the reporting of the Iraq Inquiry hearings ends, as it began, with distortion. The Evening Standard puts this headline on the former Foreign Secretary’s evidence:
Jack Straw: I told Tony Blair days before Iraq invasion not to send British troops
At least intelligent readers can work out for themselves that the headline does not reflect the [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Wednesday, 2 February 2011 at 9:47 pm

Who and Why is Craig Oliver?, Eagle Eye

Who and Why is Craig Oliver?

I can offer no snippets about the private life of Craig Oliver, the Prime Minister’s new head of communications. But I can make two observations.
1. He was responsible for the BBC’s election night programme. I can remember Andrew Neil on a boat (right). I can remember giving up on the BBC’s coverage because Sky, ITV [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Wednesday, 2 February 2011 at 6:57 pm

High-Minded Vacuities, Eagle Eye

High-Minded Vacuities

David Cameron did it last week, so Lloyd Evans, who provides the best review of Prime Minister’s Questions for the Spectator, could be forgiven for it this week. They both referred to the House of Commons as the “mother of parliaments”.
England is the mother of parliaments.
But Evans captured the essence of today’s unusually consensual exchanges [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Wednesday, 2 February 2011 at 5:48 pm

Counter-Baiting the Haters, Eagle Eye

Counter-Baiting the Haters

Grateful to Benedict Brogan, deputy editor of The Daily Telegraph, for publicising the Ban Blair Baiting petition, and for attributing its inauguration to me. In fact, that accolade belongs to Stan Rosenthal, who also placed a half-page advert for the campaign in the New Statesman this week.
Brogan notes that the latest Iraq Inquiry hearings have [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 1 February 2011 at 1:05 pm

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