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Can New Labour Avoid Cronyism in the Choice of BBC Chairman?

Magazine article Marketing

Can New Labour Avoid Cronyism in the Choice of BBC Chairman?

Article excerpt

It would be better by far to appoint someone with no overt political connections

By getting rid of successful independent chairmen of Select Committees the government has already given an indication of the subtlety with which it plans to use its large majority.

It would be very unfortunate if a similar process were to enlighten the choice of a single chairman -- the person who will be in charge of the BBC for the next five years.

Some very worrying candidates are enthusiastically putting their hats in the ring -- people who would give a whole new meaning to the phrase 'Tony's cronies'.

Baroness Jay is campaigning hard for the job and in many ways would be an ideal choice. She knows the BBC well, having worked on Panorama for many years and could at least be relied upon to make sure the programme retained a decent slot in the schedules. Baroness Jay has also carried out worthy pieces of public work, such as a balanced report into the threat posed by AIDS. It would be good to see a woman take this post for the first time.

But this is a post where perceptions are almost as important as reality. Until a few months ago, Baroness Jay was responsible for steering government business through the House of Lords. She has therefore been central to the New Labour project.

In addition, if Margaret Jay, Labour supporter and daughter of a former Labour prime minister, were to be appointed she would, with the help of Greg Dyke, and vice-chairman Gavyn Davies, form a troika of New Labour supporters at the top of the B BBC. …

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