The appointment of Sir Michael Lyons, author of the expensive and ineffective Lyons report into local government finance, to the Chairmanship of the BBC was seen as just another act of cronyism.
The Daily Mail reports today (not online) that the House of Lords communications committee has criticised ministers’ roles in public service appointments. Keeping politicians in key roles over public appointments, they argue, leads to promotions based on cronyism and not merit.
While the report doesn’t comment on Sir Michael’s ability to perform competently in his new role, despite being a professional bureaucrat with no history in broadcasting, the committee suggests that politicians meddle too much in the selection of senior officials. Tessa Jowell, then culture minister, appointed the committee who drew up the short list that led to Sir Michael’s appointment as BBC Chairman. At the time Sir Michael was a member of the Labour Party with close ties to Gordon Brown.
To avoid future cronyism, Lord Fowler – who chairs the Lords Communications Committee – called on future appointments to be completely non-political and subject to greater parliamentary scrutiny.
While this report was seldom reported, it is another step forward for the better government campaign. Political interference in services, such as the BBC, has clearly led to a collapse in faith in our politician’s ability to deliver high quality public services.