Issue: Appointment of Gavyn Davies as chairman
The appointment of Gavyn Davies, economist, millionaire and long-term
member of the Labour Party, as BBC chairman caused a furore from Tory
commentators and near 'apoplexy' from the Conservative press (The
Ironically, few questioned Davies' qualifications for the role, as he
was widely reported to be 'the best man for the job', with a winning
combination of experience and intelligence.
Despite being the first BBC chairman to be chosen via public
advertisement and an independent selection panel, the appointment was
heralded the 'final takeover' in a strategy by which Tony Blair 'has
stuffed his cronies into every corner of public life' (David Davis, The
The Government and Davies were quick to dispute allegations of 'Tony
cronyism' by highlighting that the new open recruitment process could
only reinforce the BBC's tradition of impartiality.
The defence of Davies' appointment was followed by a sharp
counter-offensive from broadcasting minister Kim Howells. 'The Tory
attack is both misinformed and hypocritical... The last two chairmen of
the BBC (both Tories) were appointed without competition and in complete
secrecy' (The Express, 20/9).
The outraged cries of 'cronyism' and corruption of the BBC impartiality
from Conservative circles, noted as the 'noise of stones being lobbed
around glass houses' by The Guardian, (17/9) took on a more personal
twist in Sunday Business: 'Davies is fundamentally a boring little man
with a beard' (23/9).
However, charisma was not an attribute required for the leader of the
BBC's strategic direction. Honesty, integrity and a commitment to uphold
neutrality were. Davies was reported to be in possession of the first
two qualities, and the BBC website unsurprisingly assured the public
that 'the impartiality of the BBC is not at risk in any sense' (bbc.co.
There were reconciliatory moves by the Government later in the week, as
'No 10 asks Tories to suggest BBC names' for the position of
vice-chairman (The Times, 21/9).
However, the rules of the new independent recruitment process, may have
to be flexible to ensure a Tory candidate is found to be the best person
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found