George Osborne’s appointment (Report, 18 March) merely confirms what Londoners have always known – that the Standard is a rightwing rag. Fortunately its influence seems to be minimal, evidenced by Sadiq Khan’s triumph in the mayoral elections despite the campaign the Standard ran in favour of Zac Goldsmith, of which some aspects were racist in tone. Much more worrying is the appointment of Sarah Sands, who was in charge of the Standard during that campaign, as editor of the Today programme despite failing to have any experience of broadcast journalism, for example.
The bias shown by Today against the Labour party in the 2015 general election – witness John Humphrys’ derisive tone towards Ed Miliband in his final interview, compared with the respectful acceptance of everything said by Nick Clegg and David Cameron in their interviews – and the derision they have subsequently heaped on Jeremy Corbyn, is worrying development and this appointment may only exacerbate it.
• I find it odd that the Evening Standard wants an editor who has no journalistic experience or qualification (and little time) and, if I worked there, I’d be very disappointed not to have been given the opportunity to apply for the job. But what really worries me is the fact that no one else seems to find it wrong that highly paid, highly responsible job appointments can be made without any proper open process. The only one of Osborne’s jobs to have any semblance of having been gained in open competition with other candidates is that of MP for Tatton, and that is a de facto pocket borough for the Tories. He lives in a world of privilege and sinecure that should shame us all.
• Ian Jack’s hatchet-job on Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre (Book of the day, 18 March) caricatures him as a ranting monster trying to force his own agenda on Britain. Yet nothing is said about how Dacre fought harder than any Fleet Street editor for the liberty of the press when he stood behind journalists like me caught in the Met police’s Operation Elveden witch-hunt. In the end, after multiple acquittals, even the Guardian agreed with the Mail that it would have been wrong to jail journalists who had to pay for information to expose scandals in the public interest. Away from the newsroom, Dacre is a kind man loyal to his friends, and is it really so shocking that an editor loses his rag at edition time? And no, I don’t work for him.
• I’m astonished at the media coverage, including the Guardian’s, given to the appointment of the MP and former chancellor to the position of editor at the London Evening Standard.
Throughout all of the coverage of press ownership and impropriety from the Leveson inquiry onward, we have heard the press’s key defence against any interference, regulation or criticism of its practices – that its freedom must be protected at all costs from control by politicians. Has any journalist pointed out the rank hypocrisy of the Standard in appointing a current MP to the top editorial job on its staff?
• Putting Rupert Murdoch’s Fox in control of another piece of our news media (Regulator to investigate Murdoch’s £11.7bn Sky bid, 17 March), given Fox News’s reputation for sensationalist news in the US, and the previous history of lies and deception over phone hacking by News Corp newspapers in the UK, is like setting a fox to guard a hen house. The frequent visits of Murdoch and his senior executives to No 10 add a further worry that our government is being subverted for US corporate interests and not the UK people’s benefit.
He who controls news can control a country’s apparent point of view. Fifteen per cent maximum of foreign, non-resident ownership should be urgently legislated in order to end external political influence and interference in UK politics.
• Why is ex-chancellor George Osborne’s role as chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (whatever it actually is) escaping scrutiny now that he’s the surprise new editor of the London Evening Standard? True, he’s unpaid as NPP chair. But the organisation is currently recruiting a head of media and external affairs, someone “to drive the creation and delivery of a media strategy across regional and national channels”. Thus, editor Osborne’s role at the NPP is a relevant interest.
• I’m worried about the hours that George Osborne must be doing to meet his work obligations. There is legislation to protect him. The working time regulations (originating from European legislation) set this at 48 hours per week. I wonder if he’s opted out of this?
• When they next compile the statistics for the number of people in work in the country, presumably George Osborne will count as three.
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