Under first George Osborne and now under new editor Emily Sheffield, the Evening Standard has become something of a safe exile for onetime players in the Cameroon government. But now it seems the winds of cross-party change are blowing through Northcliffe House as Sheffield took to Twitter to announce the newest signing for the self-proclaimed 'Voice of London': newly re-elected mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham.
Burnham's first outing for his new editorial home was speaking today at the Standard's London Rising event at which he told the people of London that they do not need to be 'levelled down' for the North, adding 'Don’t believe what people say — I love London.' Indeed Mr S recalls Burnham very much enjoying the metropolitan life when he was still an MP and speaking at the elite £1,400 a year members' club Soho House to read 'a short story about equality and justice'.
Since being elected Manchester mayor in 2017, Burnham's love for the capital seems to have cooled somewhat. It was only last October that the mayor tweeted a picture of the Evening Standard's front page about the reaction of London's hospitality industry to Covid restrictions captioned: 'If this is how London reacts to Tier 2, imagine the uproar if they were in our position.'
At the time such posturing by the 'king of the north' caused widespread irritation among Standard hacks at Burnham's failure to recognise that they were performing the expected role of a regional paper in championing their city's interests – just like the, err, Manchester Evening News in Manchester.
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) October 17, 2020
If this is how London reacts to Tier 2, imagine the uproar if they were in our position. pic.twitter.com/EV5x4IUppz
All that of course is now water under the bridge, with Burnham set to write for Londoners about the 'burning issues that unite us.' The move does of course further raise the mayor's profile as a national figure in contrast to the flagging efforts of his Labour leader Keir Starmer.
The latter's favourability ratings today were revealed to have dropped to net -48 in the latest YouGov poll, a figure lower than Jeremy Corbyn's ahead of the 2019 election.
Steerpike wonders how long it will before the Islington lawyer, who represents the Holborn and St Pancras constituency, will have to see Burnham's grinning mug in his own local Camden New Journal paper. Talk about tanks on the London lawn...