Sunday, May 28, 2017

An unexpected hero: George Osborne at the Evening Standard

When George Osborne was appointed as editor of the Evening Standard I grumbled that it was like something out of Putin's Russia - a politician from the governing party editing a major newspaper.

Sure, I reasoned, he might have some fun at Theresa May's expense because she had sacked him from the cabinet. But Tories are Tories, and come the next election the Standard would be relentlessly on message.

But things didn't quite turn out like that.

First, Theresa May called an unexpected general election. I am not saying this was done solely to force Osborne out of the Commons - he could not combine editing a London newspaper with being MP for a Cheshire constituency - but it was certainly a welcome bonus for her.

Second, even with the general election, Osborne has proved himself unexpectedly independent.

As Ian Burrell writes:
In the City, business leaders talk of his paper as “the unofficial opposition”. As arguably the best informed critic of a Conservative Prime Minister who he intensely dislikes, he has common cause with Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan, whose election as London Mayor the pre-Osborne Standard opposed. It is an extraordinary turn of events.
Maybe it is personal spite, maybe it is the strength of Osborne's convictions.

I am still not convinced that Osborne would be in the same party as most Liberal Democrats in a world where the parties were divided on more rational lines.

But he is certainly a welcome presence at the Standard.

Burrell also writes interestingly on the challenges facing the newspaper as a business.

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