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Thursday, November 5, 1998 Published at 22:00 GMT

UK Politics

Culture jobs show Labour bias

Chris Smith: Public appointments favour Labour by a margin of three to one

Three times more Labour party activists than Tories have been appointed to media, culture and sport organisations since the general election, Culture Secretary Chris Smith has revealed.

In a Commons written answer, Mr Smith listed the political activities of 182 people who had won seats on public bodies such as the Arts Council of England, Broadcasting Standards Commission and English Heritage since May 1997.

[ image: Labour: Lord Puttnam is listed as a party supporter]
Labour: Lord Puttnam is listed as a party supporter
Twenty-seven of the appointees were identified as Labour, compared with seven Conservatives, two Independents one Liberal Democrat.

But the list of appointees, issued in line with guidance from the Commissioner for Public Appointments, failed to identify the political affiliation of several key, well-known Labour supporters.

Trevor Phillips has been tipped as a possible Labour London mayoral candidate and is friends with Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson. He has been appointed to the Arts Council of England, but was not identified on the list as a Labour supporter.

Neither was Gus MacDonald, the Scottish trade minister and Labour peer who was appointed to the British Film Institute.

[ image: Gus who? No party affiliation is listed for the trade minister]
Gus who? No party affiliation is listed for the trade minister
Among the Labour supporters who were identified were the former Granada TV boss Gerry Robinson, made head of the Arts Council of England, and the filmmaker Lord (David) Puttnam of Queensgate, made chairman of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.

Other Labour supporters given posts were government Chief Whip Ann Taylor and Leader of the House Margaret Beckett, who were both made trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.

The culture secretary himself was appointed chairman of the Millennium Commission, and was joined on it by Cabinet "enforcer" Jack Cunningham and the former Cabinet Office secretary David Clark.

Prominent Tories included former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine, who also joined the Millennium Commission.

The lone Liberal Democrat was the film critic Barry Norman, appointed governor of the British Film Institute.

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