Ms Odone and the NS

It is, I suppose, a measure of how seriously people take the New Statesman that the resignation of its deputy editor should make the news columns of national papers, even as the most important US presidential election in nearly 50 years reaches its climax. (The same can be said of the Spectator, our weekly counterpart on the right, and the contrived indignation over its editorial on Liverpool.) It is flattering, too, that reporters and diarists rate our deputy editorship as being such a high office - on a par, one might imagine, with running a department of state - that they cannot imagine anyone relinquishing it after nearly seven years, unless there had been a huge row. Or, as some accounts have it, "a series of rows".

Unfortunately, the reports are wrong. Cristina Odone is leaving the NS to make TV programmes, to write and to spend more time with her new baby. She and I have argued constantly and robustly since 1998 - journalists do that kind of thing if they care about their work - but not, as it happens, about last week's cover, portraying Tony Blair as Stalin. Some readers are highly critical of the cover (see Letters, page 36). But it seemed to us both that when a distinguished academic - the professor of Russian at Oxford University - was drawing such a parallel (albeit with obvious qualifications), it was right to give his article maximum prominence. Iconoclasm is one of the things the New Statesman exists to promote.

And Cristina Odone is a supreme iconoclast, always challenging, always questioning, largely because she is neither English nor an orthodox lefty. Our working relationship has been the most rewarding of my life and the NS, now in better health than it has been for decades, is incalculably in her debt. I shall be sorry to see her go (at the end of this year), but we part on the best possible terms.

That is the unvarnished truth, to which readers are entitled. Please treat other accounts with scepticism.

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