COMEDIAN Russell Brand thought he had witnessed the ultimate in square pegs filling round holes when fellow funnyman Noel Fielding won the Great British Bake Off gig.
“Right. If @noelfielding11 can do Bake Off I’m replacing Len on Strictly,” he tweeted, unaware that a more preposterous decision was already in the wings.
Journalists are generally hard-bitten, some to the extent of cynicism, but even Mark Steel and Paddy McGuffin combined couldn’t have floated a “George Osborne for Evening Standard editor” satirical fantasy.
OK, it’s a free sheet, but the Standard’s importance as the only evening paper in London and south-east England make such a brazenly political appointment a matter of concern.
Osborne is said to have had ambitions from an early age to become involved in journalism but couldn’t get a start.
It is difficult for journalists to get into highly paid sectors of the London print media even after serving an apprenticeship on such local or regional papers as still survive.
That’s why the privately educated offspring of rich parents rely on contacts to ease their way into unpaid internships to give themselves an advantage.
If someone with Osborne’s cosseted background — he trousers £44,000 a year as a dividend from his family’s luxury wallpaper firm — was intent on making his way in journalism and couldn’t, he must have been considered useless or potential employers couldn’t stomach the thought of seeing that default-to-sneer puss every day.
He probably looked at the quarter-million quid Boris Johnson pulled down annually for a rapidly assembled stream of consciousness in the Daily Telegraph and wondered how difficult journalism could be.
No-one told him that Johnson’s £5,000 weekly jackpot wasn’t so much the rate for the job as a retainer to subsidise his lifestyle until he copped the Tory leadership or near equivalent.
At least Johnson had the belated decency to bid farewell to the Barclay brothers’ millions when he landed the foreign secretaryship. HIH Osborne is made of sterner stuff, addicted to evergreater fixes of finance.
This is the former chancellor who imposed additional hardships on the low-paid, benefits claimants, the disabled, homeless and despairing while proclaiming: “We’re all in it together.”
The Tory government is still imposing the pay freezes and cuts to vital services masterminded by Osborne while he fills his boots with a succession of generous payments from grateful capitalists.
Does anyone believe that nearly £800,000 in return for a few speeches or £650,000 for advice on the global economy one day a week represents value for money?
Not really. They are expressions of gratitude to a politician who prioritised the interests of global exploitation and parasitism over the crying needs of working people and the poor.
They are a pay-off that serves as encouragement to other MPs to think carefully about their future. Osborne’s contempt for the less well off extends to journalists who appreciate how complex and timeconsuming a job is newspaper editor, especially for an unskilled entrant.
It is directed also at his constituents in Tatton and to taxpayers who pay his £75,000 backbencher salary.
Most people regard being an MP or editing a newspaper as full-time employment, but Osborne reckons that he can combine two full-time jobs, a one-day-aweek extra and his lucrative round of speaking engagements.
It can’t be long before he guests for a reasonable consideration on Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing to make ends meet.
He should take his ill-gotten wealth, sling his hook and let Tatton voters choose an MP who represents them not financial vultures.