George Osbourne is now the editor of the Evening Standard. It would be unreasonable to object to his appointment simply because it is his sixth job. After all, growing numbers of people are finding it necessary to hold more than one job to make ends meet. A result of George Osbourne’s austerity policies. However, I find Osbourne’s appointment objectionable because it compromises society’s values and standards in three important ways. It is also proof we are anything but ‘all in it together’ as he has suggested.
1. It Undermines Meritocracy
We profess that meritocracy is one of Britain’s virtues. But George Osbourne’s selection is only explicable by dint of his social position. He is the son of a Viscount with all the accompanying privileges. He has no experience as a reporter. His foray into journalism ended with rejection by the Times graduate programme. Nonetheless, the failed ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer is engaged, and journalists with a wealth of experience bypassed. So much for meritocracy.
2. It Compromises Media Independence
The Evening Standard has been robust in reporting social issues such as child poverty which arises from George Osbourne’s policies as the Chancellor. With Osbourne at its helm, the Standard is unlikely to criticise his failings and the hardship his policies continue to bring. It is a brave journalist who would expose their boss and a foolish boss who would allow it.
Besides airbrushing out the ramifications of his policies, the appointment gives Osbourne a platform to promote himself and traduce Theresa May. She fired him as Chancellor. Additionally, how effectively will the Standard scrutinise London financiers? The editor, George Osbourne is in the pay of Black Rock, a leading investment fund. I firmly believe that the press should hold power to account and this appointment compromises that premise.
3. George Osbourne’s Appointment Is A Public Disservice
Osbourne is also the MP for Tatton. With his long list of engagements, realistically, how well will his constituents be served? Public service should be his priority for that is his duty as an MP. If it is not, then George Osbourne like former Labour MP Tristram Hunt, should resign and be the editor and everything else but an MP. While he does both he is doing a disservice to his constituents and denigrating the role of MP. It will exacerbate the public’s anti-politics sentiment and feelings that MPs are in it for themselves.
The appointment is good for George Osbourne but is bad news for democracy, for politics and the press.
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