Donald Macintyre - The Independent

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: The Budget speech wasn’t music hall but the audience was entertained

A budget for “makers, doers and savers”. And bingo promoters! So not the measures we had all been expecting, targeted at spendthrift hermits dedicated to a life of blameless inactivity and meditation. But we were ready for anything – maybe because of the music hall flourish in Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle’s introduction. “Put your hands together for the Prestigious Prestigidator and President of Fun, the Right Honourable George Osborne.” (OK, that’s not quite how he put it, but the effect was similar).

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Europe appears to have a severe shortage of both sticks and carrots

Some Eurocratic wit – it may have been the unusual British diplomat Robert Cooper – was the first to define the EU motto on foreign policy as: “Speak softly but carry a big carrot.” In the scornful view of several MPs, that was about as far as the Europeans had gone in standing up to Russia over Ukraine.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Impenetrable jargon is Defence Secretary’s most powerful weapon

Do the ministers absorb by osmosis their civil service briefs?

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Lots of love for our dumb chums as animal support splits along party lines split

Eloquently introducing the Commons debate on her call to end the “inhumane” (and so far notably unsuccessful) slaughter of badgers as a means of eradicating bovine TB, the Tory backbencher Anne Main remarked that this was “not an easy subject with feelings running high on both sides”. This was, to put it mildly, an understatement.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Looming election loosens the Coalition superglue

The prospect of an election 14 months away is having an acetone-like effect on the Coalition, gradually loosening the superglue that binds the two governing parties together. True, Lib Dem Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, standing in for George Osborne, continued to respond warmly, if robotically, to Tory backbenchers lost in admiration for what ministers call, ad nauseam, “our long term economic plan”.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Anti-elitist new minister James Brokenshire should be a worried man

Immigration minister James Brokenshire is not a man racked by self-doubt. But even he might have preferred not to find himself on the Commons front bench so near David Cameron only days after embroiling the PM, his wife, and who yet knows how many of his colleagues in “nannygate”.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: The most shocking revelation yet in the Stephen Lawrence saga. Until the next one

Perhaps the aptest – and the most chilling – five words uttered by Theresa May in the Commons came towards the end of her statement when she was saying how “deplorable” it was that Stephen Lawrence’s family had to wait 21 years for the truth to emerge about the wilfully botched police investigation into his death.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Domestic matters forgotten in consensus over Ukraine

Restricting the West End shopping opportunities of wealthy Muscovites hardly sounds like the way to prise Crimea away from Vladimir Putin’s forces. But when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, Ed Miliband reminded MPs, David Cameron, who was then Opposition leader, declared: “Russia’s elite value their ties to Europe – their shopping and their luxury weekends… Russian armies can’t march into other countries while Russian shoppers carry on marching into Selfridges.”

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Opposition could well get a little more robust on the Ukraine crisis

With events moving fast 5,000 miles to the east, events in the Commons inevitably seemed a bit off-Broadway. William Hague was at his most statesmanlike – and he does statesmanlike pretty well – condemning Russia’s “violation” of Ukrainian sovereignty, praising the government in Kiev for not being “provoked” by the “extreme situation” and urging the Russians to join talks in Paris on Wednesday.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has said that he does not want to become the Tory party leader

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Boris Johnson more interested in tunnels and flyovers than being a party leader? If you believe that…

No one is likely to accuse Boris of lacking  the killer instinct

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