A fan letter to Dave Hill

A fan letter to Dave Hill


norman lebrecht

June 13, 2010

Dear Mr Hill


I have greatly admired your doggedness in pursuing the paper trail that revealed Boris Johnson’s unflinching, partisan support for Veronica Wadley as London chair of the Arts Council. We always knew it was so, but it was good to see the proof.

What else have we learned? Not much. Most public appointments are partisan. Blair-Brown inserted trusted cronies into every cranny of the arts, not least the present chair and chief executive (notionally a non-political post) of Arts Council England. The heads of the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence are, it was announced today, resigning before the year is out because they were ‘too close’ to the last government. Many of Ken Livingstone’s senior appointments were old acquaintances not forgotten.

So why the fuss about Wadley? Because she’s a Tory and you don’t like them? I don’t like cauliflower, but I try not to go on about it, even when one is planted in the England goal. Of all the candidates for Wadley’s ill-paid post – £6,000 a year – she was in my view the best qualified.

I say this not as her former music critic (which I never was: fact-check, Mr Hill) but as her former Assistant Editor, who watched her closesly at work, clashed with her on many details of practice but few of principle, and cherished her unflagging dedication to the arts.

She will do a good job for London and the arts. If she doesn’t, you and I will be watching. But allow me to suggest, with collegial respect, that this is now a non-story. No scandal. Nothing happened. The Mayor got the woman he wanted into the job. End of.

all best


Norman Lebrecht