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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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

Boris Johnson has intensified pressure on David Cameron over Europe as he prepared to launch his bid to return to Westminster at next year’s general election

Boris standing as an MP is the silliest story of the silly season

Although that's not to say that it won't help Cameron's chances in the next election...

The Top Ten: Horrible buildings

These are mostly British, and indeed many of them are in London, because I stick with what I know and I've a few long-standing grudges to settle. Some of these were nominated for last week's Top 10 Great Buildings, but this is where they really belong.

The Pantheon, Rome

Best buildings in the world from The Pantheon to Cambridge University Library

This list was inspired by Tom Wilkinson's 'Bricks & Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made', published by Bloomsbury last month. A lovely book that starts with the Tower of Babel and ends with Oscar Niemeyer's 2010 footbridge to Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro's biggest favela, which I think is hideous.

Banned List update: more imnecessary words and phrases. If you wouldn’t mind

The author of ‘The Banned List’ issues an emergency supplementary list of prohibitions

Does Clegg face problems from his own party?

Nick Clegg's paradox: the policies are fine, he's not

Demiation is a word I've invented. It means to be cut by half, the likely fate of Lib Dem MPs

The Top Ten: Invented words

Thanks to Paul Dickson for this collection. His book Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers has just been published by Bloomsbury. To a word nerd (a word that first appeared in 1950 in Dr Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo, in which Gerald McGrew wants “a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too…”, for his collection) it is a delight.

The daily catch-up: heatwave update; duck tape and market socialism

A handful of gems selected from the bran tub of the internet by our political columnist

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Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?