Peter Bingle believes Lebedev’s appointment of George Osborne as Editor of the Evening Standard is not just inspired; it’s genius.

I had always assumed that Lebedev was a dull and boring man. His articles in the Evening Standard were tedious and his photographs were strange bordering on the bizarre. And then out of the blue he makes an appointment which is not just inspired. It is just genius! 

I have known George since he first joined CRD. Unlike his mate Dave who was always clearly destined for greatness George was a slow starter. I first got to know him when he was special adviser to Douglas Hogg at Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I was advising McDonald’s at the time and he had to handle BSE and its consequences for the industry. I remember ringing him to tell him that my client was about to stop using British beef. George’s response was inspired. He told me he was at a dinner party and could McDonalds’s postpone the announcement. I told him we couldn’t and by the next day his boss was briefed to perfection!

Over the years I became George’s cheerleader. He was a great Chancellor and I wanted him to succeed Dave and become the next PM. It gradually dawned on me, however, that George was more like Gordon Brown than Nigel Lawson. He wasn’t a revolutionary radical. He was a tinkerer …

Theresa May was right to fire George. His behaviour during the referendum gave her no choice. Although he was opposed to a referendum he became the propagandist in chief for Project Fear. Like Faust he sold his soul to the devil …

The irony about George is that he is very special. Funny. Witty. Kind. Caring. Cultured. I could go on. He is a one off amongst Tory politicians of his generation. I will never forget our monthly lunches at Daphne’s which were a riot …

During the coalition years senior Lib Dems had no time for Dave. And yet they all respected and liked George. I am not surprised …

George is a very atypical Tory. It was George who championed gay marriage. It was George who championed the Northern Powerhouse. It was George who wanted a smaller state and greater individual freedom. George is and was a one off …

Tory MPs never liked him and to be fair he never had much time for them either. He was  in a different class to the rest of them and he never hid his contempt for them. It is amazing he lasted as long as he did. The reason is simple. He won the political argument over austerity. 

So why is his appointment so inspired? Firstly, George is a free spirit. Secondly, George is genuinely a cultured human being. Thirdly, George is no longer bound by the shackles of party politics. 

George was a great Chancellor. Yet he would have been an inspirational Culture Secretary. A Wagner lover he understands just how important the arts are to the wellbeing of London. As Editor of the ES I hope he will champion not only the importance of the arts but also campaign to increase access no matter whatever your background. 

George is an inspired choice as Editor of the ES. I just hope he has the courage to deliver …

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