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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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James of the Broken Shire, Eagle Eye

James of the Broken Shire

I have written a “very sneery” column for The Independent on Sunday about James Brokenshire’s speech to Demos, according to David Goodhart. Goodhart is chair of the Advisory Group at Demos, which I said was a think tank that sounds like an aftershave, so perhaps he was annoyed about that.
Actually, Goodhart thought that I was criticising [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 9 March 2014 at 4:57 pm

Top 10 First Sentences of Novels, Eagle Eye

Top 10 First Sentences of Novels

This Top 10, in The Independent on Sunday magazine, was always going to be hard to keep to just 10. Sure enough, I have received many representations on behalf of books that people thought should have been in the list.
Lots of people thought Anthony Burgess ought to have been in it. You know, the silly [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 6 March 2014 at 12:38 pm

“Tainted Pockets”, Eagle Eye

“Tainted Pockets”

The Daily Mail does seem to be off its game. The headline I imagined it would use on the story of Tony Blair’s possible donation to the Labour Party is much better than what it came up with today.
I suggested:
This Blood Money Is Proof of Blair’s Guilty Conscience
What it actually came up with, on an [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 6 March 2014 at 10:02 am

David Owen and the Bad Fairy, Eagle Eye

David Owen and the Bad Fairy

Still further talking of David Owen, I forgot to repeat Denis Healey’s fine story about him:
When he was born, all the good fairies gave him every virtue: “You’ll be beautiful, you’ll be intelligent, you’ll have charm and charisma.” And the bad fairy came along and tapped him on the shoulder and said, “But you’ll be [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 4 March 2014 at 2:55 pm

Chuka Umunna speech: mostly harmless, Eagle Eye

Chuka Umunna speech: mostly harmless

Chuka Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, is giving a speech tonight about “Labour’s plan for long-term balanced growth” to the EEF, which used to stand for Engineering Employers’ Federation.
As usual, it has some nice touches. He praises Ken Clarke, “who speaks a lot of sense” on Europe, and contrasts him with
most of his Conservative cabinet colleagues and [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 4 March 2014 at 2:28 pm

David Owen nearly endorsed Labour in 2005, Eagle Eye

David Owen nearly endorsed Labour in 2005

Still talking of David Owen, who endorsed Ed Miliband’s Labour Party reforms at the weekend, I’m told that he was prepared to come out for the Labour Party in the 2005 election, but wasn’t taken up on it.
I understand that, towards the end of the campaign, Labour were looking for ways to “check” the Liberal [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 4 March 2014 at 11:17 am

The Velvet Curtain of Religion, Eagle Eye

The Velvet Curtain of Religion

A friend draws my attention to a prophetic passage in Samuel Huntington’s 1993 essay, “The Clash of Civilisations?” In it, he predicted that post-Cold War conflicts would be at the edges of cultural tectonic plates.
One of his examples was Ukraine, which he called a “cleft country”:
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Monday, 3 March 2014 at 1:59 pm

Blair’s gone, Lord Owen, it’s safe to come back now, Eagle Eye

Blair’s gone, Lord Owen, it’s safe to come back now

Talking of David Owen, how uplifting it was to see him back in the gateway to the Labour fold. (He’s not actually rejoining the party, he told BBC radio today, because he is too old to submit to the authority of the party whip, but he has donated “more than” £7,500.)
As I say in The [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 2 March 2014 at 5:49 pm

The entire Shadow Cabinet should be forced to drink Waitrose’s free coffee, Eagle Eye

The entire Shadow Cabinet should be forced to drink Waitrose’s free coffee

Ed Miliband’s more-Blairite-than-Blair triumph of breaking the power of the trade union bosses in the Labour Party was nearly overshadowed by a silly row about Waitrose’s free coffee.
Andy Sawford, a Labour frontbencher, criticised Waitrose for giving its customers free coffee (scroll down), because it undercuts coffee shops and “is acting in a way that will [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 2 March 2014 at 11:57 am

A new way to read, Eagle Eye

A new way to read

This looks extraordinary. A gizmo called Spritz that reinvents reading, its inventors claim. We normally read at about 220 words per minute, but this software can get us up to 500 wpm quite easily (it seems to be true, you can try it yourself at the link), or faster.
Most of the time taken by reading, [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Friday, 28 February 2014 at 9:32 pm

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