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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

You can contact John in the comments area or email him at j.rentoul@independent.co.uk

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Worst Question Award

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Tuesday, 21 July 2009 at 08:46 pm
This is a strong contender for this year's Worst Interview Question award, a competition that I have just instituted. Here is Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, "in conversation with" Tony Blair last month (photo by Justin Bishop), asking about his memoirs:

Blair: 'I’m actually trying to do it in a slightly different way. My theory about this is, if you enjoy writing something, then someone might enjoy reading it. So instead of doing this in the sense of, on such a such a day I met the following five world leaders and they said such and such and then we agreed this, I’m writing it as more as a personal journey. This is how as a human being put in this position I felt and I thought, why I acted as I did. ... So it’s slightly different, written in a somewhat different style from a conventional political autobiography.’

Carter: ‘But in the first person?’
 
To which Blair replied reflexively:
 
‘Yeah, in the first person, of course.'

He had the decency to move quickly on.

Is your autobiography going to be written in the first person? No, it will be in the "third-person passive once removed", which Colin Powell once said was Donald Rumsfeld's favourite mode of speech.

Or perhaps Blair will be like Julius Caesar in the Asterix books, who confused some senators by talking about himself in the third person. One exchange goes something like this: "He will win a famous victory." "Who will?" "I will." "Oh, him."

Update: I am informed by an authority on the subject that it was one of Caesar's flunkeys in Mansions of the Gods who, seeking to ingratiate himself with the Emperor, said, "He's great!" Caesar said, "Who?" "You." "Oh, him."

Comments

Alex The Meercat says...
shanghai7 wrote:
Tuesday, 21 July 2009 at 08:10 pm (UTC)
Or Blair replying "So God told me to back the Americans..."
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