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John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting fellow 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.

"The Independent's must-read man" - Daniel Finkelstein

You can contact John in the comments area or email him at j.rentoul@independent.co.uk

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The lightness of Mr Purnell

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 02:48 pm
I do like James Purnell's article in The Independent today. He manages, with a lightness of touch and a sense of humour, to make the case for voting Labour better than anyone else in the Cabinet.

On welfare reform, he says: 

Some people say we should be slowing down because of the economic downturn.

Some people, such as Polly Toynbee in The Guardian today. (Although he must have written his article before reading hers. Not only is he clever but he is clairvoyant - anticipating the whine of left-conservatism before it even winds itself up.)

I passionately believe we should be doing the opposite ... if it is harder for people to find work, then we should increase the support, not roll back the obligations.
He turns the Death of New Labour idea round deftly, saying New Labour was always about doing whatever it took to achieve the ends:
In a time of crisis, what it takes is a public stake in banks and a sharing of the tax burden ... In truth, the real death this week was not of New Labour but of Tory New Labour posturing.

Before closing with a supreme piece of cheek at the Prime Minister's expense:
Gordon Brown has proven that we truly are at our best when at our boldest.

That was, of course, Tony Blair's line at the 2002 Labour conference, to which Brown responded the following year by adding, defiantly: "... best when we are Labour".


The Lightweight Mr Purnell
neil_mcgowan wrote:
Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 08:37 pm (UTC)
Not a word from Purnell about the two major wars in which Britain's currently engaged. If only the whole country could be issued with buckets the same as the one Purnell's got over his head... everything would be fine!

I've got a new slogan for Purnell - "We're at our best when we're taking orders from yankee neocons".