Donald Macintyre

Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).

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Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Ed Miliband fails to weaponise himself for NHS clash at PMQs

David Cameron said today that he had asked the new Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, what his “long-term economic plan” was. Since this is a bit like suggesting to a man whose house is burning down that it might be a good time to do a bit of loft insulation, it was presumably a joke. But hardly in the best of taste.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: When it comes to Chilcot, Sir Jeremy Heywood is less Yes Minister, more Wolf Hall

It’s just as well that Sir John Chilcot will be at the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee next month to try to explain why, at five years and counting, his inquiry has, as Sir John himself said, “taken longer than any of us expected”.

Ben Emmerson before the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, where breaches of confidence were raised (PA)

Sketch: 'Goliath' Ben Emmerson fights back against 'David' Vaz in battle over child sex abuse inquiry

In Emmerson’s view, the current panel would have to be disbanded and replaced either by a royal commission or a new inquiry with statutory powers

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Scotland's human panda David Mundell loses on pedantry

Rarely has London felt so provincial – Thessaloniki to Edinburgh’s Athens of the North. While the panoply of Anglo-Scottish power – First Minister, Prime Minister, Secretary of State – was cavorting round Holyrood, the Commons made do with a sparsely attended, 40-minute statement.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Forget the Chilcot inquiry, David Cameron's gone to the dogs

Magnificent as ever, Sir Peter Tapsell today urged David Cameron to “recognise the contrast in efficiency of the inquiries into the Crimean War and the Dardanelles campaign compared with the disgraceful incompetence of the Chilcot inquiry”.

Culture Minister Sajid Javid

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Wind fails to fill Sajid Javid's sails as official 'waxes lyrical' about energy policy

Energy policy has nothing to do with the Department of Media Culture and Sport - which is where Sajid Javid actually works

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Chuka Umunna's walk-out was not quite in John Nott territory, but wasn't bad

As “walking out” of a television interview goes, Chuka Umunna’s departure from a Sky News studio today was, sadly, not in the big league. This wasn’t Defence Secretary John Nott’s magnificently enraged 1982 wrenching of the microphone from his tie and disappearing off-camera, while chuntering “I’m fed up with this interview...” after Robin Day had suggested he was a “here today and, if I may say so, gone tomorrow, politician”.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Answer to US obesity epidemic? Haggis

Lamenting that “not everyone fully understands the haggis,” Lord Purvis of Tweed today cited the story of a Burns supper which took place in Germany. The deathless description “Great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race,” he explained, was “translated into German and then retranslated back as ‘Mighty führer of the sausage people’.”

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: The PM is not 'frit', he just doesn't need the TV debates

For students of game theory, today’s raucous exchanges about TV election debates between Ed Miliband and David Cameron were unexpectedly intriguing. Miliband won, oddly since Cameron had on the face of it the better case, and made it just as robustly. As the Greens’ sole MP Caroline Lucas smilingly nodded her approval – not a frequent sight – Cameron pointed out that in the last European elections, “Ukip and the Greens both beat the Liberal Democrats, I am afraid.” (Not a great day for Clegg to break his recent habit by turning up. His open-mouthed, outstretched arms response could have meant anything from “It’s a fair cop” to “Moi? I’m Deputy Prime Minister, you know.”) Cameron added: “It is very simple. You either have both of them, or you have none of them.”

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: 'I am the Prime Minister,' Tony Blair told Select Committee - and he acted as if he was

It’s hard to know why Tony Blair resisted coming to the Northern Ireland Select Committee. A politician (and lawyer) who had proved a past master at defending the indefensible was hardly going to implode when he actually had a strong case.

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