Thursday, October 23, 2008
George Osborne: Neocon Pin-up Boy (and why the Times chief leader writer rubbishes his own newspaper's story)
The Times has gone understandably big on its scoop about George Osborne’s activities in Corfu. Many have been taken aback by quite how hostile the tone of its coverage has been... But in all this there is one notable absence: The Times has not yet run a leader on the matter. On Tuesday, one of its editorials did refer to Deripaska but the reference was to his financial difficulties not to the hospitality that he had extended on his yacht. It does seem odd for a newspaper to lead on a story for two days in a row but not think it worthy of an editorial.
writes perceptive commentator James Forsyth in on The Spectator Coffee House blog.
Not only has The Times failed to run a leader on the Osborne affair, the paper (or at least its 'Comment Central' website) has referred to the story- one which the Times itself broke- as a 'non-scandal'.
George Osborne did not take money or arrange to take money from an illegal donor. Even Nat Rothschild does not say that he did. And Peter Mandelson did not distort aluminium tarrifs (sic) at the behest of anyone. Or at least no one has presented any evidence - not a bit - that he did. So what if he had a drink on a yacht?
I can't recall a time in all my years in journalism when a paper has rubbished its own story as much as The Times did today. The author of the article on 'Comment Central' was a certain Daniel Finkelstein, who also happens to be Chief Leader writer of The Times. Finkelstein is- and I don't think he'd take issue with this description-an uber neocon. He's written hawkish articles on the need to take tougher action on Iran. He was a strong and unapologetic supporter of the illegal Iraq war, a war in which up to 1m people have lost their lives. While comment editor of The Times (a position he held from 2004-8) Finkelstein shamelessly promoted neocon writers and transformed the comment pages of the paper into a British version of The Weekly Standard.
I've written before of how a small group of neocons within the Tory party engineered the successful rise to party leadership of David Cameron. This group- which included Finkelstein, the Tories' influential 'modernising guru', were terrified that the man they call 'The Beast'-Ken Clarke, would succeed IDS as Tory leader in 2005. But not only was it imperative to 'Stop Clarke', a man who had openly ridiculed the claims that Iraq possessed WMD and who opposed the Iraq war, it was also important to promote the career of George Osborne. Why? You see, Osborne, like Finkelstein, is a fanatical neocon. He was a strong supporter of the Iraq war. And like Finkelstein, he wants a 'tough' stance against Iran. In a speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel this summer, Osborne said "We should not rule out military options. It's not the same as ruling in military options, but it does mean not ruling them out, and I think we have to be very hard-headed and realistic about the world in which we live". Standing alongside Osborne as he made that hawkish speech- was- you've guessed it Daniel Finkelstein.
I don't think we need to wonder any more why The Times has not run a leader on George Osborne's recent embarrassments, especially when you bear in mind that the man that many grass-root Tories are calling to take over from Osborne is...... Ken Clarke!
While millions are now questioning his actions in Corfu, Osborne, is according to Daniel Finkelstein, " a person of integrity.....and huge ability - it is not an exaggeration to say that he has been the big driver of Tory success in the last three years - and if this affair had taken him out it would have been a disaster for the Tory party".
For 'the Tory party' read 'the British neocon movement'.
UPDATE: The Exile gives his views on this story here.