Labour protests after former Tory staffer is made Head of the PM's Appointments Unit

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Ashworth writes to Jeremy Heywood demanding to know how former Laura Wyld was appointed to the "politically impartial" post.

The news that Laura Wyld, who was recently appointed as Head of the Prime Minister's Appointments Unit, is a former Conservative campaigns officer has prompted understandable concern among Labour this morning.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Ashworth has now written to the Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, noting that the post is intended to be "politically impartial" and demading to know who oversaw the recruitment process and how many other former Conservative staffers are employed in civil service posts. His letter appears in full below. 


Sir Jeremy Heywood
Cabinet Secretary
10 Downing Street
Dear Sir Jeremy,
I am writing regarding the recent appointment of the former Conservative Party staff member Laura Wyld as Head of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit.
You will understand the concern many will have that someone who has worked in a campaigning role for the Conservative Party has been given a post on the public payroll which is intended to be politically impartial, and which has responsibility for making public appointments on the basis of merit, not party political allegiance.
I hope that you will be able to answer the following questions to reassure the public.
Was the post of Head of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit publicly advertised with an open recruitment process?
Who oversaw the recruitment and employment process of the current Head of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit?
Would you please provide a full list of all appointments in which the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit has played a role since May 2013?
How many other former Conservative Party employees are now employed in Civil Service posts, and how many of these were appointed following an open recruitment process?
This is a matter of public interest since the impartiality of the civil service is central to effective and fair governance. It is vital, therefore, that all rules are upheld.
I will be releasing a copy of this letter to the media.
I look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely,
Jonathan Ashworth MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office


David Cameron gets into his car as he leaves No. 10 Downing Street on April 18, 2012. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood