The Racing Card

The Bet - Who will be the next editor of the <em>Spectator</em>?

Matthew d'Ancona: 3-1
Cristina Odone: 6-1
Rachel Sylvester: 10-1
Frank Johnson: 20-1

The race to succeed "Bonkers" Boris Johnson as the next editor of the Speccie is now on. Boris is determined to hang on to the job right up to the general election, but that didn't stop fevered speculation about his successor during the Labour conference in Brighton. The smart money is on the respected Sunday Telegraph columnist Matthew d'Ancona, because the winner of this race usually comes out of the stables of Conrad Black, the magazine's proprietor. However, favourites don't always win, so I have to give reasonable odds on the New Statesman's own deputy editor, Cristina Odone, who, like Black, is north American. She would be the first female editor in the mag's 200-year history.

Another woman in the frame is the ambitious Rachel Sylvester, who can charm exclusives out of Cabinet ministers with a flutter of her eyelashes. It was from her office at Westminster that the proofs of Paul Routledge's book exposing Mandy's secret home loan were stolen. At the Spectator, presumably, Sylvester would be able to buy up her own books.

The former editor Frank Johnson, a witty columnist and serious luncher, is an outside bet to return to the hot seat. But, apparently, he is not offering himself up - he is spending his weekends looking for a new home in the country.

A few rank outsiders don't even make it in the betting. My old comrade Charlie Leadbeater, whom I bumped into in the Grand Hotel discussing his job prospects with the Express boss Lord Hollick, has ruled himself out. He is too busy finishing his rewrite of the British Road to Socialism, not having noticed that that old party has gone into liquidation.

This article first appeared in the 02 October 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Nightmare on Downing Street