Andy McSmith's Diary: Ladies first as the TV political posts open up

Newsnight’s Laura Kuenssberg is well positioned to be the new Political Editor of one channel or the other

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Indy Politics

The only female Political Editor of a national television station there has ever been in the UK was Elinor Goodman, who covered politics for Channel Four news for 23 years.

That may change very soon, with two of the biggest jobs in broadcast journalism up for grabs. The BBC’s Nick Robinson is due to fill James Naughtie’s former slot on the Today programme, while ITN’s Tom Bradby is taking over as the presenter of ITV’s News at Ten, supplanting Mark Austin and Julie Etchingham. Newsnight’s Laura Kuenssberg, a former ITV Business Editor, is well positioned to be the new Political Editor of one channel or the other. Lucy Manning, poached by the BBC from ITV just over a year ago, Emily Maitlis and Allegra Stratton, are also in contention. Male candidates are fewer on the ground, though there are two strong contenders for the BBC job in particular - the Deputy Political Editor, James Landale, and the Economics Editor, Robert Peston, who is a former Political Editor of the Financial Times.

Hardly worth tweeting

Staff at the Liberal Democrat press office are still reeling from the shock they received when they tried to read George Osborne’s most recent contribution to Twitter, only to be confronted with the heart rending message: “You are blocked from following @George_Osborne’s Tweets.”  I wouldn’t worry, folks. The only tweet you have missed so far said “Today I will present a Conservative Budget - a Budget that puts economic security first.” Tweets don’t come any duller.

Ed’s long-range commute

In another life on 8 July, it would have been Ed Balls’s first budget, but he wasn’t even there. He was spending day with Ellie, his and Yvette’s oldest child, who had just completed GCSEs. I can reveal that he has lined up not one job, but two, starting in September, one with Harvard, the other with the LSE. He will be doing a lot of commuting across the Atlantic.

Farage inflates Croydon

It is Luxembourg’s turn to assume the presidency of the EU Council. That, at a time when a former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, is Commission President prompted a scathing reaction from Nigel Farage: “A country smaller than Croydon is running the European Union,” he protested.

Wrong! As the Croydon Advertiser was quick to point out, the area of Croydon is 34 square miles. Luxembourg is 30 times as big, covering 998 square miles.

Here’s one you missed

A thrilling by-election has passed almost unnoticed. A couple of months ago, Lord Tenby, the 87 year old grandson of David Lloyd George, retired from the House of Lords, created a vacancy for an elected hereditary peer. If that sounds daft, don’t blame me: it is the outcome of a compromise struck by the Labour government when they cleared out all but 92 of the hereditary peers from the Lords. There were 19 candidates in this keenly fought contest, open only to the holders of hereditary titles. Sadly only 25 of the hereditary peers already in the Lords felt motivated to vote, which meant that 11 candidates received no first preference votes at all. Jeffrey Richard de Corban Evans, grandson of the Antarctic explorer Teddy Evans, took a strong first round lead with nine first preference votes, and won on the fifth round after he had added a second preference vote to his tally. Well done, Lord Mountevans.