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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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Roy Jenkins: “Second-Class Mind”, Eagle Eye

Roy Jenkins: “Second-Class Mind”

One more thing from the last chapter of John Campbell’s wonderful biography of Roy Jenkins. My special interest in it is in its charting of Jenkins’ growing disenchantment with his protégé, which is entirely to Tony Blair’s credit.
I particularly enjoyed Campbell’s account of Jenkins’ description of Blair’s “second-class mind”.
Just because I could, I dug out [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 4:53 pm

Yet More Joy of Footnotes, Eagle Eye

Yet More Joy of Footnotes

Another lovely footnote in John Campbell’s biography of Roy Jenkins. This time it is about Sir Menzies Campbell. Jenkins wanted him to take over as leader of the Liberal Democrats when Paddy Ashdown stood down in 1999, having long thought highly of him and “probably thinking Charles Kennedy was still too young”.
At this point the [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Monday, 31 March 2014 at 8:59 pm

In Praise of John Campbell III: More Joy of Footnotes, Eagle Eye

In Praise of John Campbell III: More Joy of Footnotes

At this rate I could blog about John Campbell’s biography of Roy Jenkins every day. Indeed, I could do a daily commentary just about the footnotes, a special interest of mine.
There is a lovely bit about Jenkins’ book about Gladstone, which was published in 1995. This is a play within a play: Jenkins’ biographer commenting [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 9:45 pm

The Mandelson Memorial Dim Sum Lunch, Eagle Eye

The Mandelson Memorial Dim Sum Lunch

This pivotal event in the political calendar – the UK equivalent of the Iowa straw poll – was held even later this year than in recent years. Supposed to be just before Christmas, to mark the anniversary of the first fall of Peter Mandelson, this time we did not get round to it until a fortnight ago.
Last [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 6:40 pm

In Praise of John Campbell, part II, Eagle Eye

In Praise of John Campbell, part II

One of the loveliest things about John Campbell’s style as a biographer is his use of footnotes. I have only dipped into his biography of Roy Jenkins (yesterday I got as far as the back cover), but immediately found this gem, on page 740. It is in the last chapter, about The Great Pooh-Bah’s* afterlife, [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 6:24 pm

In praise of John Campbell, Eagle Eye

In praise of John Campbell

I was surprised, on turning over my copy of John Campbell’s authorised biography of Roy Jenkins, to discover my name on the back. The first quotation of “praise for The Iron Lady“, Campbell’s previous work, is:
“Anyone who wants to know what really happened between 1979 and 1990 should read this book.” John Rentoul, Daily Telegraph.
I remember [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Friday, 28 March 2014 at 9:23 pm

What “everyone knows” is wrong: the Budget was popular with young people, Eagle Eye

What “everyone knows” is wrong: the Budget was popular with young people

Everyone knows that George Osborne designed the Budget to help repulse the UKIP threat to older once-Tory voters, especially working-class ones. What is more, it succeeded. Recent polls by ComRes, YouGov and Populus have seen Labour’s lead cut.
All hail the political genius of the Chancellor.
Except that it is not so.
The brilliant Leo Barasi points out [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Friday, 28 March 2014 at 12:17 pm

Is Labour set to abolish fees and introduce a graduate tax?, Eagle Eye

Is Labour set to abolish fees and introduce a graduate tax?

I wonder if this, asked by George Eaton of the New Statesman two days ago, will turn out to be a Question To Which The Answer Is No.
There was a reason why Gordon Brown and then Nick Clegg failed to come up with a workable plan for a graduate tax: it is a bad idea.
But [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 27 March 2014 at 9:56 pm

A Civil Liberties Posture Too Far, Eagle Eye

A Civil Liberties Posture Too Far

David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws, agrees with Labour that the Government has weakened control orders too far. His latest report, published this morning, says Theresa May, the Home Secretary, should tighten up the rules for Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs), notably by restoring the power to relocate suspects (page 4):
Two significant [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 27 March 2014 at 12:13 pm

Who banks with the Co-op?, Eagle Eye

Who banks with the Co-op?

Rachel Reeves, the shadow Work and Pensions secretary, does. She told BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning (at 1:16) that she was “very proud to bank with the Co-op, and I feel very let down by what’s happened”.
Given how much they used to go on about co-operative values, I wonder if Ed Balls and [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Wednesday, 26 March 2014 at 5:26 pm

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