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John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting fellow 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.

"The Independent's must-read man" - Daniel Finkelstein

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Blair's cojones

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 06:30 pm
James Forsyth at Coffee House is puzzled by a quotation attributed to Tony Blair by Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun yesterday. Apparently the former prime minister "once" said: 

I would rather nail my testicles to a speeding train than be President of the European Union.

Well, as guardian of the archive of The Sayings of TB, I would say: or words to that effect. Two curiosities.

One is that it is not online. Unless my computer has Net Nanny or something installed and I don't know about it. Kavanagh's column from yesterday comes up in paid-for databases such as Lexis Nexis, but Google won't cough it up.

The other is that the quotation has been reworded since Kavanagh first recorded it, in January 2008. It was then thus:

Tony Blair once told friends he would rather "nail my b***s to a speeding train" than run for the job as Europe's first real President.

We still don't know when Blair is supposed to have said it. But this is surely taking respect for the sensibilities of Sun readers too far. If he said balls, and the Sun requires it to be asterisked out, then asterisk it out. You can't just bowdlerise it.


Bo***ks to the lot of them!
blairsupporter wrote:
Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 10:47 pm (UTC)
Balls to the lot of his critics. Are they missing theirs or just envious that Blair's are so useful?

I couldn't give a damn what he said once upon a time. He also said - what works is what works - or something similar.

So, he's changed his mind. At least he has a mind to change.

Under Blair the EU will work - perhaps even for Britain!

Think about it - we'll be able to understand what the President is saying cos he won't speak in some strange foreign lingo.

Go for it, Tony, before the hangers 'n' floggers pin you and your parts to a dock in The Hague.



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