Want to be the next governor of the Bank of England?

The official advert for the post is released.

As well as the usual rhetorical barbs between Messrs Balls and Osborne, today's Treasury questions featured two significant announcements from the Chancellor. Firstly, that the autumn statement will take place on the unexpectedly late date of 5 December (presumably so Osborne has enough time to prepare his excuses), and secondly, that the process of finding a replacement for Mervyn King as governor of the Bank of England will begin this week. Osborne told MPs that "For the first time in history, the post will be advertised and the advertisement will appear in the press later this week".

This week's edition of the Economist will feature the advert, and a panel chaired by Nicholas Macpherson, the Treasury permanent secretary, will interview shortlisted candidates before recommending a name, or names, to Osborne,

So, for Staggers readers with a keen interest in monetary policy, here's said advert. And before you apply, be sure to read David Blanchflower's verdict on King's time at the helm. "A tyrant looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects and uses extreme and cruel tactics," the NS economics editor and former MPC member wrote, "which pretty much sums up how I feel Mervyn King has run the Bank of England in his role as governor since 2003." If you think you can do better than Mervyn, you have until 8:30 am on 8 October 2012 to get your application in.

The position of Governor of the Bank of England will fall vacant when Sir Mervyn King retires in June 2013. The Governor leads the Bank of England, and plays an important role in setting monetary and regulatory policy, chairing the Monetary Policy Committee, the Financial Policy Committee and (from next year) the board of the Prudential Regulation Authority. The Governor represents the Bank in important international fora, such as the G7, G20, the European Systemic Risk Board and the Bank of International Settlements in Basel. The Governor is an executive member of the Bank’s Court of Directors.

The Governor will work closely with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and H M Treasury, which is responsible for setting the framework under which the Bank operates.

The new Governor will lead the Bank through major reforms to the regulatory system, including the transfer of new responsibilities that will see the Bank take the lead in safeguarding the stability of the UK financial system.

The successful candidate must demonstrate that they can successfully lead, influence and manage the change in the Bank’s responsibilities, inspiring confidence and credibility both within the Bank and throughout financial markets.

The successful candidate will have experience of working in, or with, a central bank or similar institution; or will have worked at the most senior level in a major bank or other financial institution. He or she will demonstrate strong leadership, management and policy skills; will have an advanced understanding of financial markets and good economic knowledge. He or she will be a strong communicator, have good interpersonal skills and will be a person of undisputed integrity and standing.

 The closing date for all applications is 8:30 am on 8 October 2012.

The Bank of England building on Threadneedle Street in London. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan are both slippery self-mythologisers – so why do we rate one more than the other?

Their obsessions with their childhoods have both become punchlines; but one of these jokes, it feels to me, is told with a lot more affection than the other.

Andy Burnham is a man whose policies and opinions seem to owe more to political expediency than they do to belief. He bangs on to the point of tedium about his own class, background and interests. As a result he’s widely seen as an unprincipled flip-flopper.

Sadiq Khan is a man whose policies and opinions seem to owe more to political expediency than they do to belief. He bangs on to the point of tedium about his own class, background and interests. As a result he’s the hugely popular mayor of London, the voice of those who’d be proud to think of themselves as the metropolitan liberal elite, and is even talked of as a possible future leader of the Labour party.

Oh, and also they were both born in 1970. So that’s a thing they have in common, too.

Why it is this approach to politics should have worked so much better for the mayor of London than the would-be mayor of Manchester is something I’ve been trying to work out for a while. There are definite parallels between Burnham’s attempts to present himself as a normal northern bloke who likes normal things like football, and Sadiq’s endless reminders that he’s a sarf London geezer whose dad drove a bus. They’ve both become punchlines; but one of these jokes, it feels to me, is told with a lot more affection than the other.

And yes, Burnham apparent tendency to switch sides, on everything from NHS privatisation to the 2015 welfare vote to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, has given him a reputation for slipperiness. But Sadiq’s core campaign pledge was to freeze London transport fares; everyone said it was nonsense, and true to form it was, and you’d be hard pressed to find an observer who thought this an atypical lapse on the mayor’s part. (Khan, too, has switched sides on the matter of Jeremy Corbyn.)

 And yet, he seems to get away with this, in a way that Burnham doesn’t. His low-level duplicity is factored in, and it’s hard to judge him for it because, well, it’s just what he’s like, isn’t it? For a long time, the Tory leadership’s line on London’s last mayor was “Boris is Boris”, meaning, look, we don’t trust him either, but what you gonna do? Well: Sadiq is Sadiq.

Even the names we refer to them by suggest that one of these two guys is viewed very differently from the other. I’ve instinctively slipped into referring to the mayor of London by his first name: he’s always Sadiq, not Khan, just as his predecessors were Boris and Ken. But, despite Eoin Clarke’s brief attempt to promote his 2015 leadership campaign with a twitter feed called “Labour Andy”, Burnham is still Burnham: formal, not familiar. 

I’ve a few theories to explain all this, though I’ve no idea which is correct. For a while I’ve assumed it’s about sincerity. When Sadiq Khan mentions his dad’s bus for the 257th time in a day, he does it with a wink to the audience, making a crack about the fact he won’t stop going on about it. That way, the message gets through to the punters at home who are only half listening, but the bored lobby hacks who’ve heard this routine two dozen times before feel they’re in the joke.

Burnham, it seems to me, lacks this lightness of touch: when he won’t stop banging on about the fact he grew up in the north, it feels uncomfortably like he means it. And to take yourself seriously in politics is sometimes to invite others to make jokes at your expense.

Then again, perhaps the problem is that Burnham isn’t quite sincere enough. Sadiq Khan genuinely is the son of a bus-driving immigrant: he may keep going on about it, but it is at least true. Burnham’s “just a northern lad” narrative is true, too, but excludes some crucial facts: that he went to Cambridge, and was working in Parliament aged 24. Perhaps that shouldn’t change how we interpret his story; but I fear, nonetheless, it does.

Maybe that’s not it, though: maybe I’m just another London media snob. Because Burnham did grow up at the disadvantaged end of the country, a region where, for too many people, chasing opportunities means leaving. The idea London is a city where the son of a bus driver can become mayor flatters our metropolitan self-image; the idea that a northerner who wants to build a career in politics has to head south at the earliest opportunity does the opposite. 

So if we roll our eyes when Burnham talks about the north, perhaps that reflects badly on us, not him: the opposite of northern chippiness is southern snobbery.

There’s one last possibility for why we may rate Sadiq Khan more highly than Andy Burnham: Sadiq Khan won. We can titter a little at the jokes and the fibs but he is, nonetheless, mayor of London. Andy Burnham is just the bloke who lost two Labour leadership campaigns.

At least – for now. In six weeks time, he’s highly likely to the first mayor of Greater Manchester. Slipperiness is not the worst quality in a mayor; and so much of the job will be about banging the drum for the city, and the region, that Burnham’s tendency to wear his northernness on his sleeve will be a positive boon.

Sadiq Khan’s stature has grown because the fact he became London’s mayor seems to say something, about the kind of city London is and the kind we want it to be. Perhaps, after May, Andy Burnham can do the same for the north – and the north can do the same for Andy Burnham.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.