29 December 2012


I've no desire to speak ill of the dead, but William Rees-Mogg, who has just died, was the Man Who Got Everything Wrong. He was a great modernising editor of the Times. More than anyone else, he turned it into a modern broadsheet paper between the late 1960s and early 1980s: it stopped being fuddy-duddy and dull and put on circulation.

But after he left the chair, is there anything he got right? His columns in the Independent and later in the Times were fuddy-duddy and dull and became a laughing-stock because of his enthusiasm for ill-informed predictions – Private Eye taunted him as "Mystic Mogg" – but they never went away. He was wrong about everything imaginable, from the state of the world economy and other geopolitical issues right down to the minutiae of arts policy, and was wrong so barmily and systematically that his column became a must-read for anyone with a taste for comedy. We need another chief establishment chump, and we need one now.

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