Tories want to make appointing Theresa’s Geezers easier

The failure to appoint a member of the BBC board to represent Wales is symbolic of increasing arrogance by Tory Ministers over devolution and public appointments.

In Government Labour reformed public appointment procedures to stop the practice that existed pre-1997 of Tory Ministers appointing their friends to taxpayer funded positions without any independent scrutiny. Under Labour Ministers could still take the final decision but candidates would be assessed independently to provide a properly qualified shortlist from which Ministers could choose.

This Tory Government is watering this down so that Ministers can choose the assessors and appoint people not deemed to be up to the job by overruling the panel. They can even get rid of open competition altogether.

The Prime Minister wants to make appointing ‘Theresa’s Geezers’ easier.

Ministers are already stretching their existing powers to the limit. In December Matt Hancock refused to appoint an ethnic minority candidate who was recommended by the appointment panel despite a lack of diversity to the Channel 4 board.

Now Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has tried to foist the weakest candidate for Welsh representation on the BBC Governors against the wishes of the Welsh Government who understandably want the strongest possible candidate.

The respect agenda espoused by David Cameron – appears to be dead. By refusing to appoint either of the top two recommended candidates, Karen Bradley has scuttled the whole process and a new recruitment effort will have to be made.

This will leave Wales without a representative on the BBC board for months, during a crucial period when article when Article 50 will be triggered with all its implications for the devolved nations.

The smug arrogance of the Tory Ministers was there for all to see in the Budget. The news over public appointments is another symptom of Tory disdain for due process.