Former chancellor George Osborne has been appointed as the editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper, in a move that will provoke questions about the independence of the British press.
Osborne will keep his job as MP for Tatton is due to replace Sarah Sands, who will take up the reins at BBC Radio 4’s Today programme from early May, but will have to be given the approval of the civil service advisory committee.
The appointment is likely to prove controversial, as it brings into question whether it is possible for a newspaper to hold politicians accountable while edited by a former chancellor and current MP for the ruling Tory party. The Leveson inquiry raised a number of questions about the overly close relationship by the media and the political establishment, and this appointment demonstrates that no lessons were learned from the investigation and report.
Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian owner of the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers, confirmed the news on Twitter, saying:
“Thrilled to announced the new editor of the Evening Standard is George Osborne.
“I am proud to have an editor of such substance, who reinforces the Standards standing and influence in London and whose political viewpoint – socially liberal and economically pragmatic – closely matches that of many of our readers. George is London through and through and I am confident he is the right person to build on the fantastic legacy of Sarah Sands.”
Lebedev may claim that Osborne is “London through and through”, but Londoners will disagree. The capital has voted resoundingly for Labour in the last few elections and selected Labour candidate Sadiq Khan as mayor, deciding to vote against a divisive and racist campaign from the Conservative party. London also voted overwhelmingly against leaving the European Union, whilst Osborne’s own party has decided that the country should leave even if no deal can be struck between the UK and its current EU partners.
If the appointment is approved, Osborne will not only be the editor of a freesheet for a city that does not like or agree with him, but he will be failing his constituency of Tatton. He should be spending his time fighting for the education and job prospects for the people of Cheshire, not ignoring them to try and ingratiate himself to the people of a city that booed him whenever they got the chance. Few will forget Osborne’s appearance at the Paralympics at 2012.