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Row as Tory website urges party members to apply for S4C Chair role

05 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Lord Ashcroft. Photo by Policy Exchange is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Martin Shipton

The most prominent “in house” Tory website is facing criticism after urging party members and supporters to apply for public appointments including as Chair of S4C.

ConservativeHome is owned by the billionaire businessman Lord Ashcroft, a former Tory deputy chairman whose previous non-dom status was a matter of controversy and who in recent years has become well-known as a sponsor of opinion polls.

ConservativeHome is currently running an article which states: “As research by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Policy Exchange has shown, Conservatives are still heavily under-represented when it comes to appointments to public bodies.

“ConservativeHome has regularly highlighted some of the appointments to these bodies, and encouraged subscribers to apply, and we will continue to do so. As well as checking out the appointments that we highlight, we would also encourage all those subscribers with an interest in offering their expertise to public bodies to sign up to the free Cabinet Office email alert service.”

Public appointments

The article goes on to list a number of public appointments currently being advertised, including that of Chair of S4C. Headed Department for Culture, Media, and Sport – S4C (Sianel Pedwar Cymru) Chair Role, it states: “The shadow Unitary Board comprises up to nine non-executive members, together with the Chief Executive, and two other executive members.

“While the Board does not participate in day to day decisions, it retains responsibilities in a number of key areas: that of a broadcaster, a strategic and oversight role, some management responsibilities, regulatory responsibilities, and a public role. Candidates need to demonstrate an appreciation of each and the ability to contribute to the Board’s work in each of these areas.

“The Board oversees and monitors the systems in place to ensure that S4C’s broadcasting service and management services can act in an appropriately independent manner without any external interference.”

ConservativeHome goes on to point out that the role is a part-time one for two days a week over a four-year term with an annual salary of £40,000. The deadline for applications is 7pm on April 11.

Investigation

The last Chair, Rhodri Williams, stepped down at the end of March, having decided not to apply for a second four-year term. The latter part of Mr Williams’ period as Chair was dominated by allegations of bullying against the broadcaster’s chief executive, Sian Doyle. The board hired Cardiff law firm Capital Law to investigate the allegations, and following the delivery of a report outlining the investigation’s findings, Ms Doyle was dismissed for gross misconduct in November 2023.

Following Mr Williams’ decision not to apply for a second term, another member of the board – Guto Bebb, the former Conservative MP for Aberconwy,has taken over as interim Chair until a new appointment is made.

Broadcasting is not devolved and the S4C Chair is appointed by the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, currently Lucy Frazer.

The same ConservativeHome article also tells its readers about three Trustee posts up for grabs at the Imperial War Museum, the role of Chair of the DEFRA Science Advisory Council, multiple non-executive director posts at the Office for Environmental Protection and seven Trustee roles at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Concerning

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said: “It’s deeply concerning that the Conservatives are actively pushing entryism and politicising public appointments of this nature where impartiality is so important, in a bid to seek to influence the outcome. Public appointments should always be based on merit and suitability for the role, never political affiliation. Given the role of the UK Conservative Government in the appointment, it raises very serious questions about the fairness of the process.

““Not only does it symbolise how out of touch the Tories are with Wales and its culture by failing to acknowledge the huge importance of the Welsh language to the role, but it is yet another argument to devolve powers over broadcasting to Wales to protect us from the ongoing threats and attacks on public service broadcasting from successive UK Governments.”

Nick Powell, Chair of the National Union of Journalists’ Welsh Executive Council said: “Of course, we’ve always known that political parties, especially when in government, try to line up supporters for public appointments. But it’s still surprising to see this carried out so openly. It highlights the need for journalists to scrutinise such appointments to see that they are not being made on the basis of Margaret Thatcher’s ‘one of us’ test.”


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

Anti Welsh and anti Welsh language Conservatives wanted to infiltrate every single last corner of Welsh life to maintain stubborn Empire control over this difficult colony and to complain about the excessive use of the Welsh language on this Welsh language television station and to demand that more English language is used eventually leading to only the English language being used and to achieve the elimination of the Welsh language – or have I read this wrong? NO I HAVE NOT! I cannot believe I just read the quoted words ‘without any external interference’. What the hell will it take… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

So, they stack the BBC with cronies, (remember Mr Sharp that was involved with sorting Johnson out a 800k loan?). Tory party tried to get Dacre at the top of Ofcom. They let Dorries loose to destroy CH4 and anything else she could. They are stacking the deck in favoiur of their vision. We will suffer. But here we have two organisation’s that are very dark on who funds them. TPA and Policy Exchange. Who is funding their idea’s and why are the Cons into them. Next Journo should ask Ashcroft hows his tax status today. Just so we are… Read more »

Elaine
Elaine
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

The TPA is part of the web of so called Think Tanks at 55 Tufton St. It was the creation of the now Baron (!) Matthew Elliott. He wants to create the equivalent of the American Tea Party in UK so I presume much of the funding comes from the US. He’s arguably doing a good job 🤬
Here’s a brief summary of his ‘achievements’ from Desmog:

https://www.desmog.com/matthew-elliott/

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine

Ah, desmog, yes, excellent site. There is an excellent clip of someone from Bylinetimes (I think) on LBC radio show challenging IEA to their funding. Another snake in the woodpile (Remember Liz Truss anyone?)
Yeah, I know about the broad brush that is Tufton St and its think tanks. They also have one that is trying to get on the National Trust board and dont like people being reminded that a lot of the wealthy in the UK got there on the backs of slavery.

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago

This role must be open to ALL in Wales who love our culture and not just the usual suspects of Cardiff Bay lovies or their mates or families.

S4C is a precious gift bequeathed by the sacrifices of many who have now passed and inspired by Gwynfor.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard E

A precious gift already tainted and tarnished by the behaviours of some people who have held positions of responsibility within the channel. Making even more dubious appointments at exec or non exec levels would add to the corrosion of its reputation, image and performance.

R W
R W
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard E

Broadcasting isn’t devolved, so it will be the Westminster government luvvies who’ll be put forward for the role.

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago
Reply to  R W

Luvies for Labour last time for certain

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