Boris and The Spectator

Press Release from The Spectator:

Statement by Boris Johnson, editor of The Spectator, on joining David Cameron’s shadow team:

This is a fantastic job [Shadow Minister for Higher Education] and I am thrilled to be given the chance to do it. It is also a very hard job to do properly. It will mean a lot of time and thought.

That is why I will be leaving the Spectator shortly after the Christmas edition has gone to press. Until a new editor is appointed, the magazine will be in the highly-capable hands of my colleague and deputy Stuart Reid.

I want to pay tribute to everyone at the magazine who has helped with its current success, in editorial, production and advertising. For the last six and a half years we have had more fun than seems altogether proper.

When Conrad Black gave me the editorship in the summer of 1999, he said he wanted the magazine to be more talked about. I believe we have discharged that obligation beyond his wildest dreams.

We have won all sorts of prizes. We have broken all sorts of stories.

This Christmas the circulation of the magazine stands at about 70,000, an all-time high.

I am also grateful to our proprietors, the Barclay family, and Andrew Neil, our chief executive, for their kindliness and support. But my particular thanks go to everyone at the Spectator, especially to Stuart Reid.

For most of my time here I have been propelled by their talents, as a fat German tourist may be transported by superior alpinists to the summit of Everest. I am completely confident that they will continue to expand and improve the oldest, best and best-written magazine in the English language.

Statement by Andrew Neil, Chief Executive of The Spectator:

Boris has been a wonderful and magnificent editor of The Spectator and we are sorry to lose him; in many ways he will be irreplaceable. But we wish him every success in his political career.

Boris leaves the magazine in better shape than it has ever been in its long and glorious history, both editorially and financially. Sales will hit a record 70,000 this December and the magazine has recorded another healthy profit in 2005. The editorial breadth and quality under his editorship has been unrivalled.

Though he is stepping down as editor I am delighted that Boris will continue to have a close association with The Spectator, including a new column for us in the New Year. As we begin the search for his replacement, I am also delighted that the magazine will be in the reliable and competent hands of Stuart Reid.

64 thoughts on “Boris and The Spectator”

  1. …. I do hope that one of the questions you will be asking is ‘Why do we need 50% of the population as graduates’ (the net effect of this being to reduce the aid given to students, bye-bye grants)

    Also, a review of the standards Universities can expect in their intake is highly desirable. I.e. Are A level standards really improving, or is the benchmark being watered down?

    Such a review may well impact both the current and previous governments (with nearly 2 decades of ‘improving’ results), but it is needed.

  2. Boris Johnson leaves the Spectator

    According to this post on his website, Boris Johnson is now leaving the Spectator due to his new post as Shadow Minister for Higher Education.
    Seems like a shame, as one of the identifying features of the Spectator has always seemed to be that &#8220…

  3. Congrats on the new job Boris – you and William Hague are the sort of people we need back on the front benches to make the Tories interesting again!

  4. Yeay!!
    I thought David would put you into the cabinet!!
    You are on the way up again, fantastic….and the Higher Education students will love you!

  5. I was wondering ‘wot no boris in the shadow cabinet’. As a part of the HE establishment, I look forward to hearing what Boris has to say, and to finding out how well he listens too. Does his portfolio extend to research as well?


  6. Boris given front bench Education post

    It is, my Boris-focused friends, the Second Coming. “We have had more fun than seems altogether proper,” Boris told The Spectator this afternoon as he resigned from his editorial post to take up David Cameron’s offer of a front bench…

  7. Simply to say, since reaching the age to vote I have to this point failed to consder the point. However, with the delectable Boris on board as the shadow minister for higher education I can only state that…

    I look forward to the future!!!


  8. Well done, dear boy.
    I need to point out, lest others seek to slur your reputation, that the fact that the day after I received a gift from you, you were promoted, should be viewed as entirely coincidental.

  9. Excellent news – congratulations and best wishes. At first I was concerned we might be losing your voice in columns such as the recent one about Bush and al-Jazeera, and so was relieved to read, “Though he is stepping down as editor I am delighted that Boris will continue to have a close association with The Spectator, including a new column for us in the New Year.”

  10. Congratulations Boris.I hope you make it to the very top when the Tories get back in. Best Wishes .Regards from York.

  11. Dish out some verbal abuse to Dennis Skinner “Beast of Bolsover”
    Seriously very many congratulations from all Monster Raving Loonies

  12. Dear Boris,

    Well done, Boris, well done.

    Give the b*astards at NL HELL, and help save us from euroland!!

    A long time reader,


  13. Well done Boris! Sorry you won’t be at the spectator anymore, but we look forward to you on the front bench!

  14. That’s great news, Boris. You’re back where you belong, on the front bench. The party needs your charisma in order to have people listen to the Conservatives. Congratulations!

  15. Many hearty congratulations.

    Though, as someone who doesn’t particularly want to see the Conservatives return to power just yet, I suppose in some ways I consider this a deplorable development.

  16. Never have I seen so many blogs in complete agreement.

    A loss to the Spectator, though, which is currently an excellent magazine for intelligent people with open minds.

    Hope you become Prime Minister eventually.

  17. Congrats, Boz.

    And may I make a suggestion in respect of Higher Education. It used to be the case, at my university anyway, that one could not submit Ph.D. theses beyond 5 years after. It takes a long time for some ideas to mature, however. Could this time limit be raised to 50 years?

    That way, idlex (and many others) might get their Ph.D.s at last.

  18. Congratualtions, I will enjoy your contribution, but, of the new front bench, I do vote you most likely to get fired for doing something stupid.

  19. What a good idea. Having a Minister reponsible for Higher Education who actually displays (at least most of the time) signs of having benefited from it bodes well for DC.

    Of the many comments already made, “Quality not Quantity” is for me the most important. Who cares if 50% of all young people have a degree if that degree is in a bogus subject from a bogus establishment. The current Government could achieve this goal by collaborating with the sellers of fake degrees over the web. A great saving (only $30 and your degree takes only one week to deliver…)

    The problem is not to increase the number of degree holders, but to re-establish the principle that to be an artisan is a perfectly acceptable ambition.

    Good luck, and I hope you don’t “loose” the ministerial transport as often as your bike!

  20. Congratulations Comrade Johnson – I shall continue to take the Speccie, or pay for it if the newsagent spots me – but keep some old copies with BJ editorials.

    Now for my guilty confession. I earn(?) my crust as a HE lecturer in a new university, though not Neasden Univeristy College. Most of my colleagues in (useful) teaching, admin and technical support are good conscientious professionals who realise that students pay a lot for their courses and we have a duty to provide the goods. We are beset with bossy people pursuing ideological targets not unlike those for production of left boots in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

    Having taught in FE before I have had experience of teaching apprentices. The challenge and the reward of this is as great as that of teaching undergraduates, postgraduates or supervising PhD’s.

    Mr. C seems like a practical man. Boris, for all his excellent clowning, is a canny chap. I look forward to them taking on the educational establishment and squashing all the bizarre snobberies that it has propagated so that we can have an educational system that supports our culture, artistic, scientific and technical, and provides people of all backgrounds and abilities with an education that will enhance their prospects and beings.

    I have almost mastered the knack of putting a cross in a box next to the words “The Conservative Candidate” – don’t you fellows let me down.

  21. What a shame that you feel the need to give up a perfectly decent job to go and work full-time for a dead-end organisation like the Tory Party. Still, best of luck. They will, at least, be more entertaining as a result.

  22. Congrats Boris on your new appointment. Of course there was the uneasy suspicion, given your undoubted popularity and support, that if Cameron hadn’t given you a post he would have been lynched. I will be looking forward with interest on your beautifully polite crucifixion of the current administrations dumbing down of tertiary education.

    Note to Andrew Neil: “Boris has been a wonderful and magnificent editor of The Spectator” yes he has.

  23. Well Done Boris!

    I hope you are still in charge of universities when I go in September 2006!

    I just hope you can hang on to it this time 😉

  24. Hearty congratulations, Mr Johnson, Sir! The new shadow cabinet is the most exciting i’ve yet seen…i look forward to a return to a more liberated and Great Britain.

    And Melissa…glad you like your local MP…but you really should come live here in Henley – our MP is better!!



  25. Does this mean Taki will be the next editor of The Spectator? From Taki’s 3 Dec High Life:

    “And now for some good news. The powers that be have told me that I shall be named editor of The Spectator if Boris becomes a front bencher and resigns. This is only fair. I’ve been waiting for the top job for 28 years, seven proprietors and five editors. My first act will be to move Mary Wakefield’s desk next to mine, lock the door and excercise my droits de seigneur. The next act will be to fire myself having excercised my rights. Well worth waiting for.”

    The full story here:

  26. Seasonal greetings, Oh esteemed haystack features!

    Old arabic saying…

    You’ll do jolly well,
    On the front bench,
    As long as you keep your pecker,
    Chained with the bike,
    To a park bench.


  27. Dear Boris

    I am glad to hear you are leaving the Spectator and will be away from that dreadful Islamophobic clot, Ron Liddle.

    Here is hoping you work to make our graduate sytem one which esteems learning, in keeping with the values of the 21st century, instead of an exam trail to a middle class job, a la Ancient China.


    The Muslim Anarchist

  28. Congratulations Boris, never has an appoinment for me been so tinged with regret, not that you won’t be a superb minister but I’ll miss your deft touch at the helm of that wonderful jounral The Spectator.
    Enjoy your new post, know ’em dead and be the Boris we have all known and loved, your honesty and sincerity shine through.

  29. Its amazing that nobody has congratulated Frank Luntz for kicking-off the Camerlot project with his focus-group segment on BBC Newsnight during the Tory Party conference. Not only Luntz’s piece, but his reaction to the focus group’s pliabilty was the First Cause of Cameron’s meteoric rise and therefore Boris’s subsequent return to the bridge of HMS Westminster. Ingrates all! If Cameron becomes PM he should give Luntz a highly paid permanent post in his non-elected kitchen cabinet. I wonder if Mrs Quinn has her eye on DC; the prospect must surely get her juices going? Politically speaking of course.

  30. Respect to the B-Unit.

    Never voted Tory, not planning to start, unless I move to Henley. However, Boris’ combination of bumbling charisma and common sense will make him a valuable addition to the political life of the UK.

  31. Congratulations on joining the Toffs Team top table, Boris. May your lunches be long and liberally liquid as in the golden age of the Bullingdon club.

    I don’t know if anyone else has noticed the steady drip, drip of Toffology in the papers. This isn’t going to get any better. Eventually the general population will reach the obvious conclusion: these people may SAY they know about our lives but they don’t really: they might as well be on Planet Zog for all the connection they have with our daily doings. I’m afraid the Tory rise in the polls – barring economic meltdown – will prove a very temporary affair.

  32. Congratulations on your new post. I’m a first year university student and I can assure you that the rejuvenated conservative party appeals to me and my peers. I have put money on you guys winning the next election, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are incompetant relics of a party in free fall.
    Will Davies

  33. All very exciting this appointment. Whatever happens to the Party, Henley constituents (all 69,000 of them) can rest assured that they will be looked after keenly by their Member.

  34. ‘Boris Johnson – editor, columnist and Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames.’ – I think you will need to edit this.

    ‘Jack Target said:
    December 11, 2005 08:07 AM | permalink

    indeed, polls have us 1 or 2% ahead if an election was held tomorrow.’

    Ignoring, for a moment, the concept of ‘us’, with the current electoral system things are biased in labour’s favour. With first past the post a marginal seat is worth more than a safe seat. Extra votes in safe seats do not really matter (hence increasing disillusionment). Many Tory seats are safe, many labour seats are won with smaller margins. 1 or 2% does not matter if that is spread nationally. Labour would still get a majority. With a national spread you’d need a much bigger boost in the popular vote.

    In 1997 Blair promised Electoral Reform. In 1998, Lord Jenkins recommended a system called AV+ (maintaining constituency link etc). This was promptly ignored.

    The tories benefitted from this in the 80s, so their line seems to be ‘the boundaries need changing’ rather than ‘the system is inherently bad, and wrong’.

    … but I could just be feeling a little cynical.

    It is interesting that Scotland, Wales and London all do not have first past the post systems. One wonders if this was motivated by party political concerns? Also, if it is good enough for Scotland….?

    Whilst on electoral reform matters (amazing how one comment can spark you off, isn’t it?) I am surprised that the Tories have yet to point out that the current electoral system has produced a situation where, in England, they have the majority vote – but NOT the majority of seats. Coincidentally, every part of the UK has it’s own parliament. Except England.

  35. I’d be interested to hear in what way exactly Yakoub thinks Rod Liddle is Islamophobic (by which one must infer he means “irrationally fearful of Islam”). And also – whether he has ever read Boris’s 72 Virgins book.

  36. Melissa – ‘courting the student vote’?

    You realise how much some of those kids like to party, don’t you? Please advise Boris to be very careful if they suggest any ‘clubbing’ or ‘drinking games’. I fear he may already be too old for the job…

  37. Congratulations Boris on your deserved primary appointment. I’m sure greater promotions are not too far off.
    A most excellent choice for Higher Education. Young Mr Cameron deserves the highest mark for this, 20 years ago that would have been 10/10, 10 years ago A+ and today a full 35%! -Good Luck!

  38. Outstanding news!

    Having recently fallen about in hysterics at the Boris decorated episode of “Have I Got News for You”, I was motivated to read some of his stuff and am well impressed, particularly at the diversity. From standing up to the Bush desiring to bomb Al Jazeera scandal to very sensible observations on the miserable position of many people on low incomes fighting extortionate taxes and health care and “benefits” systems made deliberately so bureaucratically labyrinthine (much in the style of London’s roads courtesy of TFL) that few people can actually claim anything they have paid their taxes for when they need it.

    I wish him every success but hope greatly that he keeps his sense of fun and continues to host “Have I got News for You” when time permits.

    I also hope he means what he said about the Spell-check. This thing is driving me to drink.

  39. For most of my time here I have been propelled by their talents, as a fat German tourist may be transported by superior alpinists to the summit of Everest.

    I must complain at your depiction of fat German tourists. This kind of statement would not be tolerated if it referred to fat American tourists or fat Arab tourists. Why is it always the Germans who have to bear the brunt of these stereotypes? I realise that you restrained yourself from referring to sandals or towels and sun-loungers but this is not good enough!

    Perhaps we can persuade the new Tory leader, David Mandelson, to send you to Berlin to meet some real Germans and to make apologies for this insult.

    Other than that, good luck: Let “no to tuition fees!” be your loud refrain.

  40. Given the increasing shortage of scientists in this country, what are the chances of grants being made available again to those doing science degrees? Wouldn’t this help to increase the numbers of those doing science degrees?

    I don’t really want to “cheapen” some of the other courses available now, but a degree in “divinity and water polo” (or whatever) shouldn’t really be a degree. Great for prayer meetings at the poolside, but……


    (in memory of DMA)

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