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.

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Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station

Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape

August catch-up: The Hitch on Americans, literature, liberal intervention and language

Our political columnist on his book of the summer

August catch-up: a modern sculpture I like, a new rule for life and a tribute to Boy George

Half a dozen things you may have missed in the becalmed weeks of the summer holidays

August catch-up: What Damian McBride said about Ed Miliband

A former special adviser criticises a fellow former special adviser for combining the worst traits of their two former bosses — rather unfairly, says our political columnist

Clatter, bell and carriage return of a typewriter

The Top Ten: Once-common sounds

This list was suggested by this magazine's editor, Mike Higgins, who proposed dial-up modems and electric milk floats. Telephone-related noises, including the pips when you needed to insert more coins in a phone box (Terry Stiastny), were popular, and I cannot find the old pre-digital UK dialling tone on the internet.

Students demonstrating about the rising costs of education fees in 2000

On tuition fees, we ain't seen nothing yet

In a vindication for those behind the last two rises, more people from poor families are going to university

August catch-up: great buildings, momentous events and silly jokes

Still trying to bring you some of the things you may have missed in the holiday hiatus

Seat of power: Angela Merkel prefers to use a small writing desk rather than Gerhard Schröder's behemoth

Angela Merkel dislikes Gerhard Schröder's big black desk - so what does their choice of workspace says about other leaders?

Merkel revealed she doesn't like the four-metre black desk she inherited from her predecessor, preferring to work at the small writing-table in front of it

August catch-up: London’s languages, a bet on Boris and the ultimate Venn diagram

A not-necessarily daily pot pourri of interesting stuff from around the world-wide web

August catch-up: Tess von d’Urbervilles, elasticity and the meaning of ‘irony’

An occasional round-up of things that caught our political columnist’s eye over the holidays

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Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home