Prescient and enjoyable, Invoice Jamieson was a titan of journalism

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The final message I acquired from the late, nice Invoice Jamieson was an e-mail final summer time with this within the topic field: “BEWARE THIS SNAKE OIL.”

In his stunning, bristling prose, Invoice chided me for being too sort in a current article about an industrialist who advocated letting the pound fall to spice up manufacturing. He wrote: “Down with the pound! It has such an easy charm – all the seduction of instant solution. But this is the cure-all of the snake oil salesman.”

Whereas Invoice, who died final weekend of most cancers, aged 75, accepted the lack of a heavy manufacturing base as tragic, he argued the ambrosia of a less expensive pound would have a devastating influence on the nation as it will end in greater import prices, greater inflation and the “subsidisation of the inefficient”.

He went on to pour scorn on those that scoffed on the “non-manual, light-footed, dirt and sweat-free service economy as if ‘service’ were vulgar, superficial or unworthy”. Oh, God, he added, how a lot happier they might be “metal bashing in Merthyr Tydfil or chiselling at nuts and bolts on some heritage-award assembly-line with a Gradgrind boss on an overhead gantry barking foul imprecations and monitoring our toilet breaks”.

It was traditional Invoice: caustic, chopping and humorous however most of all his lengthy tirade – which was as entertaining as one in all his famed columns – confirmed how deeply he cared about his chosen commerce, and the state of his nation. And that he by no means missed the possibility for a feisty spat with me, or anybody else.

As I chuckled over his e-mail, I had solely to shut my eyes and picture his acquainted voice booming by way of the ether from his Scottish house, to the place he had retired after writing for and modifying The Scotsman.

Studying his phrases once more took me again to after we labored collectively at The Sunday Telegraph Metropolis workplace within the mid-1990s when he was economics editor and I used to be masking the Metropolis beat. They had been wonderful days, and so had been the lengthy lunches at Gatti’s – his favorite Italian hang-out – at which we put the world to rights.

Invoice held court docket within the far-right window nook of our tiny Salters Corridor newsroom in Fore Road, resplendent in vibrant bow ties and crimson socks, his Benson & Hedges smokes by his aspect and downing black espresso by the pot. His black tie apparel would grasp on the coat stand, prepared for his many jaunts to the opera which he liked. Head bent low over his keyboard, from Thursday onwards Invoice would sort away frantically, muttering to himself, or crying out: “More coal,” by which he meant extra tales.

One of the best moments – often minutes away from the Friday evening deadlines – had been when he edited our copy. What would he assume? We hung to his each phrase. Those we hoped to listen to had been: “I can read this until the print falls off the page,” one in all his many jollier expressions.

When Invoice did wield his crimson pen, he did so with unfailing courtesy, and was all the time beneficiant to youthful journalists with recommendation and entry to his intensive Metropolis black guide. But there have been volcanic scenes too, often over some monetary scandal or political idiocy that he was chasing or writing about, after which he would erupt into large stomach laughs of pleasure or despair, typically arduous to inform which was which.

Most of these idiocies had been to do with Britain’s relations with the EU, which for him was an undemocratic establishment into whose straitjacket the UK didn’t match properly.

Invoice was an early Eurosceptic, properly earlier than most of us had a clue what he was speaking about, and might declare to be one of many pioneers of the motion from the 1970s onwards. He wrote countless and relentless columns – and plenty of books on the topic equivalent to Britain Past Europe.

With rigorous evaluation, he confirmed how the UK’s abroad investments and buying and selling relations had been already increasing into each nook of the globe however declining with the continent. He was forward of his time, and Brexit was the inevitable conclusion of his prognosis.

It’s uncommon for a newspaperman to be a robust columnist and old-school story-getter: Invoice was a type of rarities. On obligation late one Friday evening in February 1995, he acquired a name from Charles Moore, the editor, who had heard Barings was bust. Invoice went into the workplace on the Saturday, calling one in all his Financial institution of England contacts at house. His spouse answered, telling Invoice her husband was on the workplace.

Bingo! Invoice known as his contact on the Outdated Woman, who advised him he couldn’t assist. That was all Invoice wanted to know. He instantly despatched a photographer to the Barings HQ in Bishopsgate. The photographer phoned again to say the constructing was lit up like a Christmas tree. Invoice had his story.

The next Sunday, Invoice went to Barings to seek out out extra, walked previous the doormen and into the financial institution. Within the hall, he ran into Francis Baring who spilt the beans. Invoice received the following a part of the inside track, and the remaining is historical past.

Those that knew and labored with Invoice will mourn his joyful presence however keep in mind his tremendous phrases. So too will readers for his sensible – and sometimes eerily prescient – views.

The creator is government editor of Response.

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