george osborne Former chancellor George Osborne. Photo: Flickr/altogetherfool

The appointment of the former chancellor as editor of the Evening Standard reflects the elite‘s sense of entitlement

The news that George Osborne is to edit a paper owned by a Russian oligarch and dependent for its lifeblood on London’s hideously inflated property market tells us a lot about Britain today. Osborne, who is raking in £13k a day working part time for a hedge fund and is also hanging on to his job as an MP, is perhaps more than any other single person responsible for the austerity in Britain which has brought misery to millions. He has deliberately backed policies which have kept house prices high, including the sell off of council and housing association homes. 

Elementary democratic convention might suggest that he should step down from his elected role, but such is the arrogance and sense of entitlement of the 1% – to which this son of a millionaire baronet has always belonged – that it really doesn’t care what anyone thinks. The Standard will of course continue its role as scourge of the unions and working class people while fawning over the rich. Its previous editor, Sarah Sands, is off to her new job as editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, which we can expect to become even more right wing than it already is. 

The bias of the press has always been one of its dominant features, but the merging of the political and journalistic/editorial worlds has become much greater in recent years. There is an incestuous relationship between the two, which reinforces the dominant ideas of the neoliberal elite, and which ensures that the real wishes and concerns of ordinary people do not impinge on their consciousness. We can see this in the orchestrated campaigns against Jeremy Corbyn and his failure to behave like the braying MPs in the house of Commons; we see it in the patronising tones adopted towards the perfectly reasonable demands of the SNP to hold another referendum; we see it in the relentless sneering at any alternative – from train guards going on strike to Muslims rejecting the casual stereotypes about them.

George Osborne will fit his new role perfectly. No doubt Theresa May, who sacked him last summer, won’t be too keen on his appointment. London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has already sent an obsequious tweet in support. But this is not about an argument between different wings of the Tory party. It is about the relentless drive of those already in power to hold on to it, by defending their own and by trying to turn the rest of us against one another.

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.

Tagged under: