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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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When a presenter should interrupt

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Tuesday, 31 March 2009 at 03:53 pm
Usually, John Humphrys or Jeremy Paxman will interrupt someone in a discussion in order to stop them saying anything interesting or developing an argument. David Dimbleby showed on last week's BBC1 Question Time why he is different and how it should be done.

The programme has become a minor landmark in the story of how angry voters are about politicians because of the decision by Eric Pickles, the Conservative Party chairman, gratuitously to insult the audience. 


At about 1 minute in to this clip, Pickles says: "Let me explain. I have to be there [the House of Commons] -"

Dimbleby: "Like a job, in other words."

Pickles: "Yes, exactly like a job."

According to Paul Waugh, Pickles can laugh about it now. At his "Spring Reception" last night he gave a speech in which he said:

My appearance was not a complete success, shall we say. After the programme, I phoned Mrs Pickles for her verdict and she said it was "mixed". "You looked a bit slimmer after your diet. But on the other hand ... you were crap."