So…it’s official. The Evening Standard, that fine forward-looking, even-handed, well-written voice of London (I’m told it is all those things – I won’t have it in the house myself) is worth…a little over £1.33*. Just for the avoidance of any doubt, that’s for the whole paper, not for a copy. That remains at 50p.
The Animal always fancied himself as a newspaper proprietor, so had he known what the asking price was, he’d have been happy to enter into a bidding war with Mr Lebedev and gone all the way to £1.50 to take the whole caboodle off Associated Newspaper’s hands. Hell, I’d even promise to keep on Andrew Gilligan. Probably as some kind of gardening correspondent.
So what should Londoners expect from their new KGB nouveau riche owned Standard? Whilst few will shed many tears at the departure of Veronica Wadley, I’d be surprised if there is much of a change of course. The paper has nailed its trousers firmly to the mast of pro-Boris, London-is-crap, move-to-the-home-counties-as-quick-as-you-can mantra. And when you’ve nailed your trousers to the mast, climbing down becomes a little embarrassing.
*: Showing working for extra marks: Lebedev has brought 75.1% of the shares for £1.
Update: The Standard reports on its own purchase here, in suitably Pravda-esque tones.
New owner and new future for the Evening Standard
runs the in no-way hubristic headline. The article itself even goes so far as to include a heart-string pulling invocation to ‘you, the Standard readers’. And whilst the fact that the paper was sold for
a nominal sum
does get a brief mention, the humiliating figure of £1 has somehow escaped mention. And what of the new owner?
Mr Lebedev [...] has admitted working for the KGB while serving at the Soviet Embassy in London in the 1980s. He has deflected questions about spying by saying that he was opposed to communism but served his country as a patriot.
What a shame. I was so looking forward to the delicious irony of the Standard being run by ‘Red Leb’. However, there is some unalloyed good news in the story:
Associated Newspapers [...] will, however, have no influence in the editorial content or the running of the paper.