In last Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, I mentioned how outside candidates for civil service and public appointments feel ill-used by the system. My piece prompted more correspondents. One tells me that little effort was made, when he applied for a permanent secretaryship, to give him the information about the post which was available to insiders but not to people like him. The question on which he had five minutes to speak was ‘The Secretary of State has set out a number of clear priorities for the Department, covering safety and wellbeing of children, educational excellence and preparing young people for adult life; as well as the equalities agenda. How would you lead the Department to deliver successfully on these priorities?’ The interview, he writes, was ‘less a meaningful exchange and more an audition with the piece carefully selected so as to be almost impossible for an outsider to perform credibly’.
Similarly, Matt Ridley — distinguished scientific author, naturalist, PhD zoologist, columnist and peer — applied for the chairmanship of the Natural History Museum last year, having been encouraged by headhunters to do so. He did not make it to the shortlist. He asked why. Apparently, it was because his experience as a member of a local National Trust committee had been considered ‘too minor’. Ridley discovered from other sources, however, that the real reason for being excluded was that he does not believe in the catastrophe theory of climate change: he is, in his words, ‘a lukewarmer’. In public appointments, belief in global warming, like belief in ‘diversity’, is a non-negotiable qualification. Lord Green, who got the post, lives up to his name.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes. The full article can be found here.