George Osborne has caused some controversy by being appointed editor of the London newspaper, Evening Standard.
There are lots of reasons why (and ways we can use this story):
- Osborne is MP for a northern constituency (Tatton in Cheshire) yet the Evening Standard is a London newspaper – can Osborne reasonably represent the interests of his Cheshire constituency whilst spending a large proportion of time wallowing in London stories?
- Osborne has four other jobs/roles he has taken on since he ceased to be chancellor. Some are unpaid, but he is paid £74,000 as an MP, £200,000 to edit the paper and £650,000 consultancy work for one day a week for a US company, in addition to substantial sums for speeches. Is this appropriate when an MP’s job should be full-time? A poll by YouGov found 69% thought it was wrong for a sitting MP to serve as a newspaper editor.
Good material for Unit 2 Parliament – questioning the effectiveness of the representative role of some MPs – can an MP serve two masters?! Also it feeds into Unit 1 democracy & participation and the problems of declining trust and respect for politicians – many comments from backbenchers and the media have suggested that Osborne is greedy or that there should not be such a close relationship between politicians and the media. The suspicion that politicians are looking for big earning jobs whilst being paid by the tax payer has caused plenty of controversy in the past (remember the expenses scandal and the ‘cab for hire’ sting before the 2010 election). All of this works to cause a participation crisis.