In this week’s New Statesman: The Firm

David Starkey: “The Queen is a tough old boot” | Irwin Stelzer: How Labour could wrong-foot the coal

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This week's New Statesman looks inside Britain's ultimate political machine – the royal family. In the magazine, the historian Dominic Sandbrook explains why the Queen is such a skilled politician, Will Self decries the royal wedding as an overwrought prelude to a session of breeding and David Starkey calls Elizabeth a "tough old boot".

Elsewhere, Rob Brown argues that Alex Salmond's nationalist government has failed to bring Scotland any closer to independence. Irwin Stelzer urges Labour to attack the Tories over the EU, Alex Preston looks at the power of credit rating agencies to make or break both countries and companies, and Max Benitz reports from the front line in Afghanistan, on patrol with the Scots Guards.

Plus, Amanda Foreman looks at the dark side of empire, Alice Miles discusses her plans for the royal wedding and Kasia Boddy celebrates the glorious unpredictability of Bob Dylan.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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