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Journalist Anthony Howard dies at 76

Anthony Howard, the former editor of the New Statesman, deputy editor of the Observer and one of the great political authorities of his generation, has died at the age of 76.

Mr Howard, who died in London yesterday following a short illness, joined the New Statesman in 1961. He went on to become editor of the weekly magazine, which he led successfully for six years, before leaving to edit The Listener in 1979. Two years later he moved to the Observer, his home for the next seven years under editor Donald Trelford. He later became one of the most recognisable political broadcasters through his work with the BBC and Sky.

Although the left-leaning Mr Howard had retired from full-time journalism, he appeared often during television coverage of the General Election this year.

Mr Trelford told The Independent that his former colleague had left a profound legacy to political journalism. "I first came across Tony years before when he wrote a political column in the New Statesman in the early 1960s. It was very much the invention of the modern political column," he said. "I don't think modern columnists realise what a debt they owe to Anthony Howard for writing in an irreverent way about politics, very stylishly with an insider's view."

Stephen Glover, the Independent's media columnist and one of the paper's founders, paid tribute to Mr Howard's ability to promote aspiring talent. "He was an outstanding editor of the New Statesman in the early 70s, and he was brilliant at encouraging young journalists – James Fenton, Martin Amis, Francis Wheen.

"He was of the Left but he wasn't terribly ideological, and he had good friendships with journalists on the right such as Frank Johnson, the sketch writer on The Times. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of modern British political history stretching back to the Second World War – and of course he wrote a lot about it himself."