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Osborne at Stanford: the power of privilege and celebrity

The nation’s ex-chancellor Mr George Osborne has just accepted his seventh job as a visiting fellow at the prestigious Stanford University in California.

He is also an honorary professor of Economics at the University of Manchester and an advisor for the American fund managers Blackrock, as well as the editor of the London Standard along with three other occupations.

This is the man who trumpeted austerity and who championed the grossly unfair Tory rhetoric that all opportunities are available to those who work hard enough.

This is the man who secretly cut the NHS budget by £1.1bn in his 2016 budget, and refused to apologise for attempting to slash disability funding by £4.4bn in March of 2016. This is a man who does not even have an economics degree.

It’s no wonder Mr Osborne fails to understand the lack of opportunities and prospects that those from lower-income households have. The man is too busy scoring jobs for himself. From his privileged education at Eton College to his time as an MP, George Osborne has never even stopped to think about the less fortunate in this country.

So why are we letting him get away with it?

The answer is simple: privilege and celebrity.

Osborne joins the masses of celebrities who have honorary titles from universities: J.K Rowling has seven from top UK and US universities, and Meryl Streep has four including three from top Ivy League schools. However, these degrees tend to be awarded for reasons such as talent or advocacy, none of which Osborne has shown over his stint as chancellor or his current job juggling charade.

Managing seven jobs may sound impressive, but the illusion quickly fades when one realises Osborne is paid £650,000 a year for working one day a week at Blackrock.

Along with Stanford, the University of Manchester is simply rewarding Osborne for his privilege, a prospect that is unacceptable. If anybody without his overt status was awarded an honorary professorship in economics without a degree in economics, there would be uproar, especially if that person already had five other jobs.

Osborne’s acceptance of his seventh shows how little respect he places on each appointment. Should a man who can take a position like the editor of London’s biggest newspaper for granted really be Manchester’s first choice for a prestigious and highly academic honour?

If we want men like Osborne to understand the average citizen, we need to stop treating them like celebrities. Ex-politicians need to earn their titles just like anyone else, but they never will if places such as the University of Manchester keep bestowing them with new jobs and honours.

Osborne’s job at Manchester is unpaid, but his incessant need for new employment shows nothing but greed for titles and prestige as well as money. George Osborne may be gone from the cabinet but it seems it will be a while until he disappears from the public eye; he’ll be here for as long as he is allowed to be.

It’s time we stopped offering him jobs and let him make his own way in the world, just like everybody else.

Tags: George Osborne, Politics, privilege, Stanford University, University of Manchester

Nicole Wootton-Cane

Deputy Editor of The Mancunion
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