• The vast majority – around nine in ten – of persons appointed to public bodies declare no party links. • The latest figures from the Commissioner for Public Appointments shows that 3.3 per cent of appointees in 2012-13 declared a Conservative affiliation, compared to 3 per cent for Labour (with the balance favouring Labour in previous years), even though the absolute numbers are very small. • Appointments are subject to tight rules which allow ministerial involvement, but only in choosing among candidates approved on merit by an independently chaired panel. • The most important posts, though in Ofsted’s case, the Chief Inspector, not the Chair, are subject to pre-appointment hearings by a Commons select committee. The fuss over Baroness Morgan is over re-appointment, not the original appointment, where the rules and processes are tight. Ministers are entitled not to reappoint, but should there be procedures requiring them to explain their decisions? The underlying question is whether the publicity will deter good candidates from putting themselves forward. The latest row has to be seen in context. First, some supporters of Michael Gove have been critical of Ofsted for its robust scrutiny of free schools and academies, prompting a vigorous response […]

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