Chris Rumfitt, founder and chief executive of Field Consulting, says Yes.
George Osborne’s post-ministerial career had already raised eyebrows when he took a bumper package to advise asset manager Blackrock. But it truly caused jaws to drop when news came through that he was to edit the Evening Standard.
While the former chancellor is clearly a man of ambition and talent, and politics does benefit from MPs having outside experience, this is a step too far.
Editing a daily newspaper is a full time job, and to do that while representing a constituency 200 miles away is surely impossible. Moreover, every time the paper criticises the government, it will be viewed through the prism of its editor’s relationship with a Prime Minister who sacked him just nine months ago.
Meanwhile, when the paper criticises the capital’s Labour mayor, it will be seen as party political. Good luck to Osborne. It’s an amazing job and he may well be very good at it. But he can’t do it while staying in the Commons.
Poppy Mitchell-Rose, a director at Freuds who worked as a special adviser to George Osborne from 2005 to 2013, says No.
George, a keen historian, will be well aware that he is the latest in a prestigious line of MPs who have served as newspaper editors. Liberal MP C P Scott was one of the Manchester Guardian’s most celebrated, while Iain Macleod, who served as chancellor, and Boris Johnson, our foreign secretary, both edited the Spectator as MPs.
I spent almost eight years working for George, from the dark days of Opposition to Number 11. I got to know a sharp minded (and sharp witted) public servant, hard working and dedicated to improving the economic wellbeing of the country, and the life chances of its citizens.
He has proven to his constituents that he was able to combine the role of MP with that of chancellor, an utterly relentless job. He is accountable first to them, and they have the power to remove him if they feel he isn’t up to the job.
We often complain our MPs lack enough real world experience. With turbulent times ahead, the House of Commons needs as much experience as it can get. It would be a poorer place without him.