Previously, appointments to public offices such as tsars, regulators, and top civil service jobs were generally uncontroversial. But, since Johnson took power, these positions have become increasingly politicised.
We thought that the number of spurious appointments, or attempted appointments, deserved a section of their own in this calendar:
There was former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, who was lined up for a job as chair of Ofcom, despite his prominent criticism of the BBC.
Then there was the recent announcement to pick former chair of Vote Leave Gisela Stuart to head up the civil service.
And there was the decision to appoint Robbie Gibb, Theresa May’s former director of communications, to the board of the BBC.
More appointments come to mind, particularly in the education sector, as well as the former Conservative MP George Hollingbery being appointed to become ambassador to Cuba. Not to mention, of course, the inappropriate hirings of Dido Harding and Kate Bingham to oversee Test & Trace and the UK’s vaccination programme, respectively.
Such a concerted move not only devalues these public offices, but transforms a vast swathe of the public sector from a set of previously non-partisan departments, to ones whose motives may now always be suspect. Recent acts such as the BBC withdrawing from Stonewall’s diversity programme, or Conservative MPs attacking standards commissioner Kathryn Stone, show that these previously neutral bodies are increasingly being brought into the political discourse.
Ultimately, it will be the British people who will lose out, if their leaders start extending their political fights to these public bodies.
Check out the rest of the advent calendar’s entries here, and stay tuned for more releases!