So it has just been announced that UK conservative MP & former chancellor, George Osbourne, will be the next editor of The Evening Standard – London’s biggest newspaper.
When I heard the news I was like ‘Whaaatt?!’ But I instantly presumed that this meant he would be resigning from being a Member of Parliament – not a ludicrous thought: get new job, resign from old one.
But no. George is going to do both jobs. On top of his other job at a giant US investment company. Has George got his hands on Hermione’s time turner or something?
Nope, he has just said that he will edit the Evening Standard in the mornings and then be in Parliament in the afternoons. Erm?! I wonder what my boss would say if I suggested a similar working arrangement – maintain my pay level but do my busy full-time job in the mornings only and in the afternoons do another busy full time job.
It doesn’t seem like a good deal for anyone other than George does it? I wonder what his constituents think of the deal? When they voted him in did they think he would only do the job in the afternoons?
Setting aside the time issue and the fact that George does not have the relevant journalistic experience for the role, his appointment represents a huge conflict of interest. How is the Evening Standard going to fairly hold the government to account with an editor who is a member of the ruling party?! It’s a dark day for the UK’s democracy, and it is understandably reducing people faith in politics and contributes to the rise in apathy.
For me – it’s a clear example of why we need people-powered campaigning and activism. It is essential that people organise and come together to hold those with power to account. George’s actions show that he thinks he is above the rules, that he can get away with whatever he wants. A democracy only works if representatives are held to account by the people they are there to represent and a free, unbiased media. George’s appointment is like the ruling elite sticking two fingers up at democracy. The only way we can fight this type of corruption of power is if we come together. George might have the power of class, privilege, wealth and nepotism on his side – but if we come together, we have the power of numbers and the power of people.
If you too are outraged with George’s appointment then there’s lots of campaigning activity going on that you can get involved in from mobilisation in his constituency, petitions like this one, to political rule challenges and letters to the Evening Standard. Or start your own activity.
But it doesn’t stop at this specific incident. It is wider – we need people in power to know they are being watched and held to account. MPs work for us and are paid by us. Get to know yours, make sure you are calling on them to represent you. If you live in the UK, you can find who your MP is here. They should all hold weekly sessions where constituents can raise their concerns – you can book an appointment and meet them. (Not sure how George is going to fit that into his busy schedule..)
In the face of politicians who think they can do whatever they want, let’s not despair – let’s unite in holding them to account.