Diary: George Osborne

By Osborne, George | The Spectator, May 13, 2017 | Go to article overview

Diary: George Osborne


Osborne, George, The Spectator


Watching the general election from my newsroom is an out-of-body experience. I've been involved in the last five general elections variously as photocopy boy, parliamentary candidate, shadow minister, campaign manager and chancellor. This time I'm reporting on the election as editor of the Evening Standard. I have a lot to learn; but I have a great team to help me. There is something remarkable, magical even, about the way every day tens of thousands of words are written on everything from the implications of the French election to Arsène Wenger, to this summer's trendiest cocktails; then laid out on pages with striking pictures and adverts; printed on a million copies; and delivered to hundreds of tube stations, supermarkets and the like around our capital every afternoon -- all so you can have in your hand a daily quality compendium on what's going on in the world. And it's free. Amazing.

Newspapers should inform in an entertaining way. To help do that we have reintroduced the political cartoon into the pages of the Standard, the home of some of the greatest cartoonists in the history of Fleet Street from Vicky and Jak, to Low. Low's depiction in the Standard in June 1940 of the British soldier standing on the cliffs over a stormy English Channel under the caption 'Very well, alone' is probably the most famous cartoon of the 20th century. It's a high bar, but our new cartoonist Adams is off to a strong start. He was thrown a tough challenge on day three when it was announced at 10 a.m., an hour before our deadline, that Prince Philip was retiring from public life. I asked Adams whether he could produce a new cartoon. It normally takes him a couple of hours, but 40 minutes later he had done a brilliant drawing of the Duke turning out the light on his black taxi cab. There was one problem. The ink wouldn't dry. So he stood there frantically giving it a blow dry with a hairdryer borrowed from the features department. It made the first edition.

All the papers have been filled with stories from people who have met the Duke of Edinburgh. I can now tell mine. Early on during my time at the Treasury, I was announced to the receiving line at the state banquet in Buckingham Palace for the President of Indonesia as 'Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer'. …

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