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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The Top Ten: Fictional countries

We did fictional buildings a while ago (Hogwarts, 221B Baker Street). Ben Ross asked about fictional lands such as Lilliput. I chipped in with Costaguana, the setting of Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. I ruled out facetious entries such as Wales, Africa and “the UK”.

A report in the Financial Times last week suggested that George Osborne has £5bn a year to play with in his Budget in 17 days’ time

Budget 2015: There could not be a better time for the Chancellor to find a spare £5bn down the back of his sofa

George Osborne need not be a genius to pull off Lamont’s 1992 election trick again, 23 years later

Daily catch-up: the battle of the election videos, and a robot sarcasm detector

All you need to know, including about opinion polling news and immigration figures

Daily catch-up: MPs’ outside earnings, and putting the uh? in luvvie

Plus a swimming submersible, an anonymous source and another picture of old London

Daily catch-up: should we believe the opinion polls or the betting markets?

Plus a cartoon, a quotation, a book review and a very long article about commas

Daily catch-up: ‘Ed Miliband goes to Waitrose with his Lidl bag-for-life’, say focus groups

All you need to know, including the history of ‘mistakes were made’, and other ancient mysteries

The Top Ten: Synonyms that sound like opposites

Tom Startup pointed out that flammable and inflammable appear to be opposites but actually mean the same. Someone called Generally Right offered slim chance and fat chance, which is nice. Adam Huntley offered passive and impassive, although they are not quite synonyms.

Not even an MP yet, Boris Johnson has been promoted to the top team: he, Osborne and David Cameron will be the faces of the Conservative election campaign

Why Cameron needs to tame the big beast Boris

If the PM could harness the qualities of London's Mayor he would. But a Tory defeat would actually suit Johnson

Daily catch-up: into the rapids of the Greek crisis; and a history of the English

Plus sound effects and even more recommended reading

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Day In a Page

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public