Is Archie Norman's appointment bad news for the Tories?

Could the new ITV chairman clash with his old party?

Over at Comment Central, Daniel Finkelstein suggests that the appointment of the former Conservative MP Archie Norman as the new chairman of ITV is bad news for the Tories.

Here's why:

Because the party will need change managers to help transform public services. And there is no better change manager in Britain -- as ITV will discover -- than Archie Norman.

The Tory party has lost, at least for the moment, the best possible GOAT.

Finkelstein, who served as an adviser to William Hague before joining the Times, will have had close dealings with Norman, who was one of the early supporters of Hague's leadership bid.

If like his immediate predecessor, Michael Grade, Norman throws his weight behind the government's plan to top-slice the licence fee, he could yet clash with his former party.

David Cameron has set the Conservatives against top-slicing, an idea they previously championed, in a U-turn many believe was influenced by the Murdoch-owned Sky.

James Murdoch has declared that top-slicing the licence fee would be "catastrophic" because it would lead to more commercial media companies becoming dependent on public money. Much as he may want to see a "much, much smaller" BBC, Murdoch does not want to fight a war on two fronts.

The shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has similarly warned that top-slicing would make broadcasters focus "not on attracting viewers but on attracting subsidies".

What position will Norman take? This is one to watch.


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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.