Despite the generous welcome it received from Sadiq Khan, George Osborne’s appointment as Evening Standard editor is not a good development for London or for the media’s standing.
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) March 17, 2017
The former chancellor, who expected to remain in a top cabinet post following last year’s Brexit vote, has no apparent qualifications to run a newspaper and was consistently one of the most tribal and partisan of David Cameron’s team.
His economic policy slashed benefits for hundreds of thousands of Londoners and led to the rise of the so-called gig economy which has seen many working in insecure jobs and having to go to tribunals to enforce their rights.
And, if we’re to believe Boris Johnson, the former Mayor who now occupies the Foreign Secretary post Osborne apparently hankered for, he actively threatened the capital’s success by planning to axe Crossrail after hundreds of millions of pounds had already been committed to the project.
He was also the driving force behind the funding cuts which forced the closure of police stations and axing of fire engines and cuts in the NHS.
George Osborne, darling of a certain section of the Tory membership that he may be, is not a man known for acting in the interests of Londoners. So many will be baffled to see their Mayor welcome him to the editorship of the paper which is meant to speak up for them.
And, at a time when trust in the mainstream media is under threat, the appointment of such a partisan Tory poses real risk to the paper’s ability to scrutinise a Labour Mayor.
Thanks to its own highly partisan editorial slants during the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Mayoral races the paper already dented its credibility with large numbers of Londoners and today’s appointment amplifies the ease with which factual stories of future City Hall failures can be dismissed as Tory propaganda.
And the conflicts of interest as Osborne seeks to combine MP and Editor are vast.
Just think. In 12 months time his Standard will be covering the budget his party leader will expect him to vote for.
Will we be reading the paper’s honest assessment of the Government’s spending plans or a partisan take by a guy who still probably hopes to succeed Theresa May one day?
Instead of praising Osborne’s appointment, Sadiq ought to be touring the newsrooms making this point:
This appointment is bad news for the reputation of politics, journalism and the relationship between the two.
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) March 17, 2017