If I were a journalist and I had begun the old fashioned way, writing reports on weddings and funerals and flower and produce shows for some small newspaper, gradually progressing to something more prestigious, maybe going on to be in charge of a particular set of features, and eventually thinking about setting my sights on sub-editor jobs or even editor positions, I would be more than a little annoyed at the moment. Imagine having done all that training work and then you see someone with no real journalist experience being given the job of editor or a London paper. And probably being offered an inflated salary to do so.
I may be doing George Osborne a disservice, of course. I did read somewhere that he had journalistic ambitions in his youth. No doubt he can craft a fine article. He is an educated man, after all, and should be able to write with a good level of literacy. For all I know, he may have been the editor of magazines and periodicals at school and at university. But by his own admittance he has never run a newspaper.
So why is he uniquely qualified for the job if editor of the Evening Standard?
As I say, those who have done all the training must be asking something like that, surely!
Besides, has he not got enough to do already? And does he not earn enough money already?
He is reportedly already paid £650,000 a year for one day’s work a week for fund manager BlackRock. One day a week?! And he had 15 speaking engagements in the last year, earning him £800,000. That's an awful lot money for each time he stood up to speak. His words must be made of spun gold or something. And a US thinktank give him a stipend (just how is that different from a salary?) of £120,000 a year. Then there is a book deal on top of that. Wow!
An ordinary MP earns £75,000, which admittedly may not be huge by London standards but is considerably more than an ordinary teacher earns, even with London weighting. And I bet no teachers have time to take on extra jobs to supplement their salary. There are MPs who say that representing their constituency is a full time job and that even though they are allowed to take on other commitments they would find it hard.
So George Osborne must be very clever at getting things done very quickly. Or perhaps he gets bored if he doesn't have high pressured stuff to be doing all the time.
However, the spoilsports are getting to work.
Some are asking for the Cabinet Office to investigate because he accepted the job of editor without the approval of the watchdog on former ministerial appointments.
Then there is Ryan Shorthouse, the director of Bright Blue, a Tory thinktank, who said he expected Osborne to stand down as an MP. “A free press, which holds power to account, is a fundamental part of a liberal democracy,” he said.
“A sitting MP, especially of the governing party, cannot also be an editor of an influential and national newspaper. It is a significant conflict of interest and unethical. The [former] chancellor has spoken eloquently about the importance and goodness of liberal democracies. So, if he is to be editor of the London Evening Standard, he must – and I suspect will – resign as an MP.”
And there are jealous people (how shocking) who must feel betrayed because there are rumours that the former chancellor only decided to apply for the editor’s job at the Evening Standard after friends contacted him to ask for advice on whether they should apply for the role. Really? Is that the action of a friend? Or is it all sour grapes on their part?
But when does he ever find time to spend all that money? That's what I would like to know!