Islington Tribune
Publications by New Journal Enterprises
  Home Archive Competition Jobs Tickets Accommodation Dating Contact us
Islington Tribune - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 6 March 2009

William Keegan
‘Your Majesty, I’m one of those writers’

Veteran financial journalist cracks joke with Queen as he receives CBE honour at the palace

HE has been writing his influential financial column every Sunday in the Observer for 32 years and has seen off at least six editors.
Now Barnsbury writer William Keegan, 70, has been honoured for his services to journalism with a CBE from the Queen.
He introduced himself to Her Majesty as “one of those writers who hadn’t warned her about the credit crunch” – referring to comments she had made previously, at the London School of Economics, that there had been no indication of the financial downturn.
A visiting professor of journalism at Sheffield University, Keegan, from Lofting Road, whose brother Victor is a journalist at the Guardian, is also well known for his book The Prudence of Gordon Brown.
Written in 2003, long before Brown became Prime Minister, it was described by former Cabinet member Clare Short as a “warts ’n’ all” examination of the man and his policies.
Keegan is married to barrister Hilary and they have seven children, including four from a previous marriage. He has lived in Islington for more than 40 years.
Talking about the impact of the book, he said: “I wanted to balance praise with some criticisms. I thought Brown was too prudent in the beginning for not spending on infrastructure and the NHS.
“Then he opened the floodgates, which resulted in the kind of consumer boom which has contributed to the problems we have today. We’ve had nothing like this since the 1930s.”
But what is his opinion of Brown today? “I’ve always said to people that in private Brown is a much more relaxed figure and very entertaining,” says Keegan. “He just doesn’t come across like that on TV.
“What has puzzled me is that he used to be a great performer in the Commons, but these days he seems more rattled. I suspect the burden of the office is enormous and he probably doesn’t get enough sleep.
“With his experience, I expected him to be a lot more relaxed in the Commons, a bit like former PM Harold Wilson. But I do believe he is a serious and sincere politician.”
Keegan doesn’t blame Brown for the recession. “Of course, he shares some blame for promising to abolish boom and bust,” he said. “He also didn’t bring in credit controls and a limit on the size of mortgages. He bears some responsibility for what went wrong. But this is a worldwide recession and actually sparked off in the US. Brown can’t take all the blame.”
Keegan said he has not been impressed with Tory leader David Cameron’s response to the crisis. But, unlike some, he has not written off Tory financial spokesman George Osborne MP.
“At one stage Mrs Thatcher was written off,” said Keegan. “They said she’d never come to power. But she grew in the job. I do think it is interesting that the Tories had to bring back former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke MP. It was a wise move as he does bring them some seniority.”
Keegan explained that he is very conscious of the popular criticism of journalists who hype up the economic situation.
“I try and avoid too much opinion in my commentaries,” he said. “I’m anxious not to overplay the crisis. But as each month has gone by I have become more worried.”
In a column before December he shocked some by saying it may be time to call the recession a depression.
Keegan said: “I could sense from the figures that we were looking at something really bad. The rate our gross domestic products declined in the last quarter of last year was terrifying. We’ve got a bust and a credit crunch and the two have interacted.”
Today, he said, economists and governments are looking at the social democratic model of Scandinavia, including Sweden and Norway, for good financial performance and social protection.

• Along with his CBE, Keegan has celebrated another victory in his long battle with Transport for London over an unpaid congestion charge bill that escalated from £40 to £500. Keegan argued it was a “misunderstanding” and took the case to appeal – where the fine was refunded.

Comment on this article.
(You must supply your full name and email address for your comment to be published)







Theatre Music
Arts & Events Attractions