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Editor's blog Sunday 9 May 2010: A great political columnist departs

Good evening.

In these equivocal times, it is particularly sad to report the death of Alan Watkins, one of the best political columnists of recent decades, yesterday. He was 77.

Watkins was a must-read among the political writers. His style, mixing informed experience, effortless-seeming phrasemaking and genuine wit, was a champagne pleasure to read. His judgment was impressive, as Michael White's excellent obituary in The Guardian indicates.

Another good obituary of Watkins appears in his last columnar venue, The Independent On Sunday. The Independent has this tribute, from ex-Observer editor Donald Trelford.

Politics - inseparable from economics - drives our national health policy. Good political observers are a valuable guide. Great ones can help you see things differently from your owen preconceptions and prejudices.

Alan Watkins was one of the greats. He would have loved the mechanics and the physics of the period through which we are going to spin for a while.

Michael White reports that Watkins' tipples of choice were champagne, armagnac and claret. I hope his memory would not be offended at the toasting of his life and career in a red Burgundy.