The announcement of George Osborne’s appointment as editor of the London Evening Standard last week managed to shock “a lot of journalists and MPs into temporary silence”, says John Gapper in the Financial Times.
Aside from his lack of experience, the conflicts of interests between the editorship and two of his other roles – as MP for Tatton and £650,000-a-year adviser to BlackRock – the investment management company, are “flagrant and obvious”. “How can an editor oversee a newspaper’s financial coverage while being paid by a large financial institution? How can a serving MP and former chancellor provide critical and independent coverage of politics?” Nor are these simple part-time jobs.
Still, the boundary between politics and journalism has “always been porous”, says The Guardian, and if the direction of travel is usually the other way (think Michael Foot, Nigel Lawson and Boris Johnson), Osborne isn’t the first politician to enter our world (think Bill Deedes and Matthew Parris). However, editing is a full-time job, so “something will have to give”. The other toxic aspect of this appointment – and Osborne is said to have “reached out” to the Standard’s Russian proprietor, Evgeny Lebedev, for the job – is that he “embodies” the “profound” split in his party over Brexit, adds Tim Shipman in The Times. Theresa May’s allies are deeply suspicious of Osborne. As one minister said,“It looks like a platform for vengeance”.
Osborne himself has made it plain that he will not be afraid to give the government a hard time, and he will be “on a collision course with her instincts for more state intervention on economics and integration”.
We have had a “grim” lesson in how the British establishment operates, says Owen Jones in The Guardian. When a man with scant experience in journalism – “other than being rejected by The Times’s graduate scheme” – can just waltz into a job like this thanks to his connections, it’s clear we’re ruled by “a never-ending dinner party, marked by limitless self-regard” and greed. There just “isn’t a sick bag big enough”.