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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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My JK Rowling Moment

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 02:41 pm
Mind you, I nearly had a JK Rowling Moment as I was writing my article saying I preferred David Cameron as prime minister to Gordon Brown. She wrote a good article for The Times last month which ended:

I’ve never voted Tory before ... and they keep on reminding me why.

Yesterday at 2.33pm I had email from Cameron - not the real person but the Conservative email robot - the subject of which was:

A contract between the Conservative Party and John Rentoul.

Just because I thought Tony Blair was the finest peace-time Prime Minister in our democratic history does not mean that anyone who copies his rhetorical and campaign techniques gets my vote. Blair did all that "contract" stuff in 1997, and it was all right as a device, but what matters is the content.

Here Cameron hits a seriously wrong note. His stupid "contract" tells me:

For too long, you've been lied to by politicians saying they can sort out all your problems.

I don't think so. At all. I do not believe that either Blair or Gordon Brown ever said they could sort out all of anybody's problems. I do not believe that either of them lied. Most politicians don't. The word is wrong, offensive and, worse than that, a tactical error. If Cameron is trying to win over people who supported Blair, he should realise that we think that Blair and New Labour achieved a great deal for this country, before the party lost its way.

Only by deciding that Cameron is incompetent, by allowing this juvenile "contract" to go out under his name, was I able to write that I hope he wins this election.

So that is my message: vote Cameron; he's useless rather than malign. Let's see if Conservative Campaign HQ put that on their next email shot.

PS. I owe an apology to Mary Ann Sieghart, who phoned me during the campaign to ask me who I was supporting, for an article about Blarities backing Cameron. Actually, the focus was more on people who supported Barack Obama who were now supporting Cameron. So I dodged it by saying that I had been a John McCain supporter (which I had been when I thought Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee), and that I would be voting Labour (which I will in Bethnal Green and Bow, where the Labour candidate is the excellent Rushanara Ali, against Respect).