Embargoed: 00:01 Thursday 30 January
- Public appointments in 2018-19: 47.4 per cent of declarations of political activity were for the Labour Party, compared to 31.6 per cent for the Conservatives.
- The south of England (including the South West, South East and London regions) was the principal residence for over 40 per cent of appointees.
- Appointments should be made more representative by focusing on diversity of opinion, to ensure a balance of views among those in public life.
Analysis from the TaxPayers’ Alliance reveals that public appointees continue to be remarkably unrepresentative, with Labour and other left-of-centre parties’ supporters dwarfing the number of Conservatives, and southerners significantly outnumbering northerners.
Figures confirm that efforts to make quangos more representative have failed, as officials obsess over right-on diversity guidelines rather than reflecting public opinion.
Having a majority of political quangocrats actively opposed to the elected government undermines democratic accountability and still leaves taxpayers footing the bill for bureaucratic policy crusades.
The proportion of public appointees identifying as Conservatives is barely half what it was under John Major - making up less than a third of the quangocrats who expressed a political view last year.
While Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were successful in swiftly installing ideological bedfellows, as the TaxPayers’ Alliance previously identified as far back as 2012, their successors have not moved to ensure appointments reflect the public mood. Despite Labour losing the last four elections, almost half of avowedly political appointees owed their allegiance to the Labour Party. And the Liberal Democrats, having been almost wiped out, can still claim more than one tenth of the quango politicos.
Public appointees remain decidedly southern, despite a supposed shift in political gravity toward northern provincial towns. Relative population density notwithstanding, last year more than seven times as many appointees declared the South East to be home, as said the same of the North East. The south of England (including the South West, South East and London) was the principal residence for over 40 per cent of appointees.
Existing quotas and guidelines focus on the diversity of identity, not diversity of opinion. Making appointments more representative must mean a balance of views from those in public life.
More appointees and reappointees should be encouraged to declare their political affiliation, with exceptions for when that declaration would be detrimental to carrying out the role.
- In 2018-19 there were 1,844 public appointments and reappointments to quangos and NHS bodies in England and Wales.
- 8.6 per cent of all appointees and reappointees in 2018-19 declared significant political activity. Of these, 47.4 per cent were Labour party supporters, 31.6 per cent declared an affiliation to the Conservatives, 10.5 per cent to the Liberal Democrats and 10.5 per cent supported other parties.
- As the ConservativeHome website has reported since 2012, our research showed that 57 per cent of political appointees in the last year of John Major’s premiership had a political allegiance with the Conservatives, compared to 2018-2019 where only 31.6 per cent declared as being politically active for the Conservatives.
- The most and least popular areas where UK government appointees and reappointees had their principal residence was the South East (16.3 per cent), compared to 2.2 per cent in the North East.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
"Quangocrats govern much of our everyday lives, but they seem to be carrying on like the last decade of democracy never happened.
"Taxpayers should not be left paying for a majority of public appointees who avowedly oppose their worldview, and know nothing of life outside the prosperous south, all in the name of guidelines which cover everything but diversity of opinion.
"Now is the time for taxpayers to take back control of quangos by demanding that ministers clean up the system and make appointments genuinely representative.
TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)
- Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at www.taxpayersalliance.com.
- TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.
- Figures regarding the political preferences and principal residences were obtained from the Commissioner for Public Appointments' annual accounts.