John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at King's College, London, and at Queen Mary University of London. 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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Albunea groeningi: A pale yellow sand crab named after the Simpsons creator Matt Groening

Latin animal names: The top ten

I have not fully recovered from the discovery that the proper Latin name of the western lowland gorilla is 'Gorilla gorilla gorilla'. Here are 10 more, inspired by 'The Naming of the Shrew: A Curious History of Latin Names' by John Wright, published this month by Bloomsbury.

Last month, the Polling Observatory reported that Labour support has fallen by an average of three percentage points while the Conservatives have held steady

The Green Party is a growing threat to Labour — could its surge be the next big political story?

The party does not even pretend that it is trying to take votes from the two main parties
Michael Cashman, Baron Cashman CBE, former actor and Labour Politician pictured at his home in Limehouse in London, U.K., on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014

Michael Cashman: The rainbow warrior

Stardom, power, heartbreak, and now crowned Britain's most influential LGBT figure... but the Labour peer says there's so much still to do

Daily catch-up: fictional buildings, Miliband’s fightback from Labour’s slump

Favourite things, including fantasy, zapping rain drops with lasers and polling analysis

Ed Miliband speech: 7 quotes that show how he'll go down fighting

Speech has been seen as a make-or-break moment in which he tries to win over an increasingly jittery Labour Party – as well as convince voters he can be the next PM

Daily catch-up: once a party blames the media for its leader’s unpopularity, it has lost the plot

Ed Miliband makes his ‘comeback kid’ speech today, with a lot to come back from

Daily catch-up: the Great Smoke; the Rainbow List; and ideal and real pay ratios

Also, to suggest that I have a cultural hinterland, references to Philip Pullman and Pink Floyd

Daily catch-up: Yvette Cooper bests Theresa May; and the state of the parties

All you need to know about rebellious MPs, opinion polls, ice and smog

Daily catch-up: Chuka shines; hangovers; and American fears

Half a dozen items on your ‘to know’ list for today

The Top Ten: War memorials

We had Top 10 Works of Public Art last week, but I thought we should have a separate category for war memorials. Here are the ones that I think best combine beauty and dignity, and which bring an unexpected prickle to the eyes.

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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'