I almost fell off my chair when I saw the news announcing George Osborne as the new editor of the Evening Standard. Reading this on the BBC there could be no doubt that this was not fake news. I must admit my first reaction was that this surely must be a conflict of interest. On reflection however I don’t see a problem.
First and foremost, we should have nothing but admiration for the personal success of Osborne. He has shown what is achievable if you combine ability with hard work. I hear rumours that Osborne lives off five hours of sleep a night, which if true is astounding.
Just this morning I read an article from Jess Phillips (Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley) in the Guardian which expressed how she felt sorry for the people of Tatton. This is total nonsense; the people of Tatton have an MP they can be proud of, a man who has and will continue to deliver for their interests. I am sure they will be full of pride that their MP was able to become chancellor of the exchequer.
They are the socially liberal, economically liberal Tories which Osborne represents. As editor of the standard he will be able to do much more to promote this agenda then a normal backbench MP. If you compare this with the achievements of Jess Phillips and many other career politicians who are screeching outrage, I am sorry but Osborne trounces all of them.
Indeed, the last thing we want is to ban MP’s from having outside interests to parliament. To ban MP’s from doing this would lead to a dumbing down of the quality of politicians. We would end up with an increase in the numbers of talentless career politicians. There are no laws stating the standard must be independent and as Fraser Nelson points out in the Spectator there are historic examples of MP’s being editors of newspapers. We must also bear in mind that Osborne is not currently in government.
This appointment will mean the standard continues to be a liberal voice for Londoners and as anyone who has followed Osborne since he was sacked as chancellor will know, will be a much more effective opposition to this government than the Labour party. This role will also make the ex-chancellor one of the most powerful backbenchers in parliament. Surely this alone means he is doing his job well. The point of MP’s is to win power and affect change.
Those who wish to see the back of Osborne as an MP must remind themselves that the only people who have the right to remove him are the people of Tatton, who he represents. I suspect however that when the time comes they will return him to parliament.