Friday, August 17, 2007

Bill Deedes: Perhaps the Greatest British Journalist of His Age

Very sad news. Bill Deedes has died. I can do not better than repeat what the Press Associationb are reporting tonight...

"It is with deep regret that the Telegraph Media Group announces the death of Lord Deedes, who passed away this evening at his home in Aldington, Kent."Aidan Barclay, chairman of the Telegraph Media Group (TMG), said: "Bill Deedes was a giant among men, a towering figure in journalism, an icon in British politics and a humanitarian to his very core. "He was part of the fabric of The Telegraph. In his passing we have lost part of ourselves. We will not see his like again. Our thoughts are with his family and his legion of friends."

Murdoch MacLennan, TMG chief executive, said: "The sun has set on a remarkable life, lived very much for the benefit of others. Bill Deedes' journalism enriched all those who read it, his selfless humanity touched us, his good humour and courage - even to the very end - inspired us. For all those in newspapers, it is difficult to imagine life without him."

Daily Telegraph editor Will Lewis said: "It was a great honour and privilege to have worked with Bill Deedes. "He was a wonderful inspiration - both as an outstanding journalist and as a human being whose wealth of experience and charity work will be very sadly missed."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britain owed a "huge debt of gratitude" for Lord Deedes' public service. "He started writing as a professional journalist more than 76 years ago and few have served journalism and the British people for so long at such a high level of distinction and with such a popular following. Mr Brown added: "An MP and also a Cabinet minister, he will be remembered most as an outstanding and long-serving editor of the Daily Telegraph, and then a much read columnist. "You could agree or disagree with his views, but like so many others I found his writing fair minded, informed, and enlightening. Such was his commitment to public service that at the age of 85 he became an ambassador for Unicef, a position he also held with great distinction."

David Cameron praised him as a one-off: "Bill was quite extraordinary: doing enough in his time to fill at least three lifetimes. Listening to him, whether about politics, journalism, or events on the other side of the world, he was always a source of both wisdom and entertainment. It's a cliche to say 'we will not look upon his like again', but I suspect with the passing of Bill it is true."

Baroness Thatcher, who had known him for more than 50 years, told the Telegraph tonight: "Bill was a dear friend who will be greatly missed. He had a uniquely distinguished career in politics and journalism. He managed to appeal to new generations just as effectively as he did to earlier ones. I am deeply sorry at his passing."

31 comments:

Cranmer said...
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Cranmer said...

His Grace deeply mourns the passing of one of the first Compassionate Conservatives of the 20th century.

Goodnight, Bill. May you enter into the Kingdom with joy in your heart at what you achieved on earth, and may our Saviour embrace his good and faithful servant.

+Cranmer

Diablo said...

Bill Deedes was a fine human being. Now he can join Denis for a never ending game of golf!

Paul Burgin said...

Very sad news (incidentally am reading Scoop at the moment, so he has been in mind). His achivements were many, from covering Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia to the death of Princess Diana, from being a cabinet minister under Macmillan, to being Editor of the Daily Telegraph, from being referred to in Dear Bill in Private Eye to appearing on Have I Got News for You, this is the end of a long, and definetly very full life

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Why is there a tribute from the Labour prime minister, but not the Conservative Party leader for this ex-Conservative MP?

Conservatives.com isn't carrying anything.

Marquee Mark said...

M'sU at 11.10pm

Read the bloody piece. There's a quote from Cameron in there.

Bill Deedes always struck me as a man full of mischief without malice. Shame he didn't make his century, but a damn fine knock anyway. Chin chin, old chap.

Ross F said...

A lot of journalists sink into self parody when they get into their old age (I won't name names but I expect most people can think of a few examples), Bill Deedes was still first rate right up until the end, (his last column was about Sudan and was particularly impassioned).

Curmy said...

I'm very sad to hear of Bill Deede's passing, he was a wonderful man, with better manners than a lot of todays journalists !
I enjoyed reading his column every Saturday.

John Trenchard said...

Lord Deedes - your comments

when somebody dies that the BBC approves of , its "your tributes".

english democrat said...

Every day the giants pass away to be replaced by pigmies!
Self sacrifice and duty is being replaced by greed and self interest!
Dignity and impartial thought are increasingly rare and partisan and unthinking bias is becoming common!

He did his duty as a patriot AND a human being, what more could anyone ask?

Tuscan Tony said...

Very sad news. He was a person with whom I would have dearly wished to have had the honour of lunching with.

RIP

Anonymous said...

Very sad day.

I share the words of ENGLISH democrat.

we are now ,almost, surrounded by pygmies.

Note that Brown does not miss an opportunity to press his British campaign! Scots can be scots, Welsh can be Welsh and the Irish can be Irish.
The English are...British.

What would Bill Deedes have made of that.

wonderer said...

sounds like this guy died then

Harriet Hamster said...

Very sad last night what a gent
Touching obit today by Richard Ingrams another great trooper of the real Fleet Street era
God Bless Bill ...

Votedave said...

I was very saddened to hear the passing of Lord Bill Deedes.
His ability to write excellent columns in the Daily Telegraph with wisdom, without malice and, even into his 90s, amazed me.
British journalism will never be the same again, and owes Bill Deedes a great debt. Rest in peace Bill.

Richard Patient said...

Bill was a great guy.

dirty dingus said...

As far as I can tell his last published words, written a fortnight ago, were

Emphatically, he was one of those men who have left a footprint in the sands of time.

They were about Baden Powell but as I've written at my blog they also apply to the person who wrote them.

Womble On Tour said...

He died, as he said he wanted to "with his boots on"; his last column was on 3rd August. I noticed that the BBC News didn't bother giving his death any prominence last night. what else would you expect ?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

dear bill indeed.

Tim Footman said...

I liked the story from Charles Moore. Telegraph staff were discussing the Millennium Dome. Moore said: "Of course, Bill, you rememember the Festival of Britain [1951]. What was it like?" "It was impressive," said WFD, "but not as good as the Empire Exhibition in 1924..."

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I worked at The Telegraph for 25 years and got to know Bill quite well, there was no side to him and he was always 'Bill' when we spoke. I was a compositor and he was always a gentleman who went out of his way to have a few words. It seems that you will miss the next edition Bill. RIP

Richard Havers said...

No perhaps about it

Sea Shanty Irish said...
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Sea Shanty Irish said...

Great post by Iain for a great Englishman and world class journalist.

And Yer Grace hit the nail right on the head!

As did Diablo - think very many of us had that fond thought.

Agree with Womble, that Bill Deedes died with his boots on. Ain't a bad way to go.

IF BBC is slow on the uptake, really should take a cue from Gordon Brown (believe his own tribute is sincere) and get with the program - literally.

Best comment so far is from Anon. 9.11 above. Very sorry that you've lost such a friend and (dare I say) a comrade.

Newmania said...

The perspective was long, but the focus stayed sharp….For example ..“What makes me thoroughly uneasy about David Blunkett's decision to make incitement to religious hatred an offence is that it overturns a long-established principle, firmly upheld by a Labour government 35 years ago………..”This is the value of experience and memory in the year zero world of New Labour , for whom he had an unwavering distaste.
I wish he was here to mock the preposterous imposture of “New Brown”. He consistently argued that the Brown v Blair pantomime was for public consumption and that this entity was more left and more singular than it appeared .I think he knew his time was short. There was a passage describing the ‘roses’ this year with an almost elegiac serenity but England was not a view of Roses to him .England was found in the integrity of the political process His distaste for New Labour ,therefore ,was commensurately strong albeit ironically expressed ....

He could still draw blood in his nineties , astonishingly comfortable in the contemporary world his columns should not be dismissed as charming for all their good nature.
Others have mentioned the affection he inspired but the respect he is due for his writing and political thinking is what will remain an inspiration to me and others. Had the nauseating unctuous fraud Brown actually either read or been enlightened by his work he would resign walk out of No. 10 tear off his clothes and never be seen again.



Thanks for the company ,

Sea Shanty Irish said...

You are right (in more ways than one) Newmania, there WAS more than a touch of tasty arsenic with the all that wonderful old lace!

Bill Deedes was most emphatically NOT just a nice guy. He was also a very SMART guy with clear, penetrating insights combined with a strong point of view. Plus a great nose for news AND a work ethic that kept him pounding out copy - the kind people really want to read - right to the end.

Those who were closest in life, politics & perspective will feel his loss most deeply. To my mind the greatest tribute, however, is when your foes miss you as much as your friends.

PS - Today US media is reporting the passing of MICHAEL DEEVER who played a major role in electing Ronald Reagan first Governor and then President. Truly a hard day for Anglo-American conservatism! And as with Bill Deedes, Mike Deever is admired for his gifts and mourned for his loss across the political spectrum.

simon said...

If i manage to drink as much gin as old Deeds- i'd be ecstatic! I raise a G&T in honur to him!

jonathan riley said...

This was a very sad piece of news to have to read. RIP Bill Deedes.

stalin's gran said...

Bollocks Iain. He was a a patrician scumbag.

Harriet Hamster said...

stalin's gran
How very sad your comment is,but you stand alone...