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The Evening Standard has issued a statement denying a report accusing it of “selling its editorial independence”. An article published on the Open Democracy website last night made the explosive claims that George Osborne’s paper
“has agreed a £3 million deal with six leading commercial companies, including Google and Uber, promising them ‘money-can’t-buy’ positive news and ‘favourable’ comment coverage… Unbranded news stories, expected to be written by staff reporters – but paid for by the new commercial “partners” as part of the 2020 deal – have already been planned for inclusion in the paper’s news pages within a week of the project’s launch.”
If true, the deal would, as the article alleges: “sweep away the conventional ethical divide between news and advertising inside the Standard”.
Guido has previously reported on how Osborne defended his employer BlackRock’s half-a-billion pound investment, Uber, on the front page of the Standard, one of many glaring conflicts of interest since he took over as editor. The Deliveroo love-in is certainly interesting, too. The Open Democracy article is based on the above slide which, embarrassingly for the Standard, does appear to promise “money-can’t-buy” coverage: “we expect every campaign to generate numerous news stories”. On the other hand, Open Democracy is notorious for publishing nonsense by cranks. The author of this piece, James Cusick, also writes for Peter Jukes’ conspiracy theory website Byline.
ESI Media say in a statement that the article is “grossly misleading”:
“Under no circumstances have these clients been guaranteed news coverage for their own ends, nor would they ever be. Properly signposted commercial content within an editorial product is an accepted part of the news industry and is nothing new for publishers.”
Standard hacks will be asking some searching questions in the newsroom this morning…
Job number eight for George: he will be advising Exor, which owns Juventus football club and has stakes in Ferrari and Fiat. Even more of interest is has a 43% stake in The Economist magazine. Those jobs in full:
But what job does he really want?
Dave was on a morale-boosting visit to CCHQ ahead of the locals last night – while browsing the Evening Standard he was caught on a hot mic by young Tory Robert Langley. The former Prime Minister wondered aloud:
“Has the Chancellor, the former Chancellor, been helpful tonight… oh no, not particularly [laughter]… ah, no way…”
He seemed to enjoy it a little too much…
There is a rumour going round that Osborne is bored of being the editor of London’s evening paper and is contemplating a run for mayor of London. Presumably he would not add a seventh job to his current resume and would have to step down. Could he afford the pay-cut? Is he even on the Tory candidates’ list? George could of course run for one of the those centrist metropolitan elite parties that we read about in the broadsheets…
Guido cannot think what Deliveroo have to do in return for the endless puff pieces and positive coverage the Evening Standard gives them. In the last few months the Standard has written a glowing profile of Deliveroo’s founder and top and tailed multiple Deliveroo press releases on how they help feed the hungry and offer free food to their rivals’ customers. Well if you can’t use the editorship to help out your close friend and former adviser, now Deliveroo’s head of global comms, what’s the point?
The Evening Standard’s coverage of May’s China trip gleefully reported that on a visit to a school the PM held “fu”, the Chinese character for fortune, “upside down, earning confused looks from people at the Busy Bee center, including the young girl they were chatting to”. The China Daily suggests otherwise
Fu means luck or happiness in Chinese. However, it is actually a custom to hang the character “fu” in reverse on doors or in windows, as it means good luck will arrive, as “upside down” rhymes with “arrive” in Chinese… This is downright correct, holding fu reversed shows people’s wishes for good luck… It is the newspaper that knows little about Chinese culture…
Guido can’t read Chinese so it is hard to know which newspaper is telling the truth. Whereas one is a source of relentlessly slanted political propaganda against the British government, the China Daily is a professionally produced newspaper edited by a longstanding editor. Am going to go with China Daily being right about Chinese characters…
This error is not necessarily due to George Osborne, senior sources in the building tell Guido he has barely been seen since November. He took several weeks off in December, has been giving giving lucrative speeches in the US and was in Davos all week a fortnight ago. There was no sign of him last week either. Hacks are speculating that problems in George’s private life are taking up a lot of his time…
George Osborne’s Evening Standard editorial on Carillion today: “Why has the state found itself so dependent on a few very large outsourcing firms? The failure to use a variety of smaller, mid-size companies undermines innovation and leaves services hostage when things go wrong.”
George Osborne, signing off on another Carillion contract as Chancellor in 2014: “It is great to see successful companies like Carillion winning contracts around the world. This deal, the first in a pipeline of many, will help us reverse the age-old trend of not exporting enough, boosting growth and creating jobs.”
He even wore their hat…
George Osborne didn’t rule out a return to parliament at his press gallery lunch today. The Evening Standard editor gave a lively speech and when asked if he would return to parliament he said: “I don’t rule it out”. But he did rule out joining the NUJ…
Osborne had the following to say:
On Boris: “A pretty effective mayor of London.”
On the Tory leadership: “It is the consensus party view that there will be a Conservative Leader contest this parliament.”
On Corbyn: “If the Labour movement was led by a social democrat of even middling ability they would now be 20 points ahead in the polls.”
On Freezergate: Taught him “a thing or two about editorial conference.”
On why Remain lost: “We looked like the establishment.”
On the importance of the metropolitan elite: If the Tories are “anti-modern and anti-metropolitan then people will be anti-us.”
Mayoral bid or return to the Commons? A George / Amber / Ruth Remoaner dream team…
Despite all the doom and gloom from the BBC, Faisal Islam, The Times, FT and Guardian, Brexiting Britain is actually happier:
Taking back control feels good, the statisticians cite ‘statistically significant improvements in average ratings of life satisfaction, feeling the things we do in life are worthwhile and happiness for the UK overall’. These are actual ONS figures, not a forecast…
Could this be because all the depressing forecasts of doom and gloom from the government and the media have turned out to be BS? Remember HM Treasury’s official guidance to voters, in a letter sent to each and every household, was that on a Leave vote Britain faced:
GDP has grown in every quarter by an average of 0.4% since the referendum. Weak growth is not a recession.
GDP is 6.1% higher than the Treasury forecast it would be, according to BrexitCentral.com that is equivalent to £135 billion of extra annual production over their estimate, or just over £2,000 for every man, woman and child.
317,000 new jobs have been created since the referendum, that is 817,000 higher than the Treasury forecast.
The Remainstream media reporting of those Treasury forecasts implied that those of us who wanted to Leave were, in the words of the then Chancellor George Osborne, “economically illiterate”. Leaving aside whether he should have accused us of being “economically innumerate”, it turned out it was in fact him who was totally wrong.
Is Britain happier because the forecast doom and gloom has not materialised? There will be another happiness dividend when the new Project Fear claims of airplanes not flying, cancer patients going untreated and exports rotting in ports turns out to be untrue…
Over on Instagram George Osborne has been spotted by a fellow fitness fanatic at Barry’s Bootcamp, the VIP gym to the stars which boasts David Beckham and Ellie Goulding among its clientele. Originally established in Hollywood, Barry’s London in Euston claims to offer “the best workout in the world”, and promises:
“Your loved ones will probably see a difference in 5 weeks, and your friends (the observant ones, and the ones who have a crush on you) will probably notice in 2-3 months.”
Apparently “You’ll feel better about yourself, you’ll be more motivated to work out, and seeing the heads whipping around as you stroll by doesn’t exactly hurt your ego”. Disturbingly the Instagram gym bunny who spotted Osborne writes: “I can confirm he’s a grunter”. Membership can cost up to £295-a-month. 5:2 diet not cutting it?
George Osborne has landed job number seven (and eight?): visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and dean’s fellow at its business school. Those jobs in full:
This one, unusually, is unpaid. Though Stanford did pay him £30,000 for a speech last year.
Curious line in George Osborne’s Evening Standard editorial today:
“If we want to remain trading in the single market and customs union, then we will have to make annual financial contributions, accept free movement of people and acknowledge the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That is what Mrs May was sensibly shaping up to offer in Florence, until Mr Johnson suddenly realised it would run counter to all the promises he made a year ago.”
Was May really “shaping up” to accept free movement? Not sure Standard readers are getting the best Brexit analysis…
UPDATE: A government source says Osborne’s analysis is “completely delusional” and that there was never any chance of them accepting free movement or ECJ jurisdiction. Another embarrassing Standard cock-up…
UPDATE II: May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy:
“Not even George can believe this. Evening Standard editorials will soon be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.”
In his Standard leader today George Osborne all but admits that he did make that infamous “chopped up in a bag in my freezer” comment about Theresa May. This evening’s editorial praises May on modern slavery, suggesting her critics should now refrain from OTT language about her:
“In the battles over Brexit, and over the future direction of the Conservative Party, some harsh words have been said about the Prime Minister. Her advisers created a poisonous atmosphere among senior Tories. But they are now gone, and a much more consensual team has recently replaced them in Downing Street. Mrs May’s critics in her party will want to respond in kind. We can reflect that strong differences of opinion do not need intemperate language, even when said in jest.”
So he did say it then. Think “sorry” is the word he’s looking for…
Jacob Rees-Mogg didn’t hold back with his criticism of George Osborne. This is devastating. pic.twitter.com/6aMbdE3W62
— LBC (@LBC) September 14, 2017
Osborne’s vitriol has not resonated with even strongly pro-Remain Tory MPs to whom Guido has spoken. This from Jacob Rees-Mogg on LBC sums up feeling among much of the parliamentary party:
“The sadness of George Osborne is that he is a formidably able man. He served with distinction as Chancellor of the Exchequer and he has decided since leaving parliament to emulate a rather less successful Edward Heath. And I think this type of bitterness and bile ends up making the person who has that bitterness and bile feel resentful and sad and has no effect on broader politics. His firepower diminishes with every bitter outburst and for so able a man that is something we should be sad about rather than particularly condemn.”
Yesterday the Standard’s first edition splashed on two different stories, both attacking Theresa May. He’s trying too hard…
George Osborne is quoted in an Esquire profile vowing to never stop attacking Theresa May until she is “chopped up in bags in my freezer”. Not really the words of a man who is thinking rationally. As Guido noted a couple of weeks ago Tory MPs have been increasingly disturbed by Osborne’s macabre imagery when describing May. He has described her as a “dead woman walking”, said she is on “death row”, called her the “living dead” and talked of her “immediate execution”. The Tories will have reason to cancel his conference pass on security grounds at this rate…
Meanwhile today’s Evening Standard splashes on yet another pro-Juncker front page. Do Remainers really think talking up Jean-Claude is the way to get voters to change their minds? Mad…