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Bottomley urged to apply for BBC job

LONDON - Former Conservative cabinet minister Virginia Bottomley is being encouraged to enter the race for the vice-chairmanship of the BBC.

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Bottomley, the former National Heritage Secretary, is said to be coming under pressure from senior members of all three major political parties to apply for the job.

The Liberal Democrats have said that if Bottomley applied for the job, they would not nominate their own candidate. However, it is thought this could be because the Lib Dems would benefit from a by-election in her constituency, which would be called if she is made vice-chairwoman of the BBC. Bottomley beat the Lib Dem candidate in Surrey South-West by a mere 861 votes in the general election.

Bottomley is believed to be well qualified for the job. As national heritage secretary in John Major's cabinet, she was responsible for broadcasting.

It has also been suggested there would be strong support for a woman candidate - a refreshing change from the all-male trio which has been running the corporation for the past five years.

The government is keen to appoint a Conservative candidate because it is facing increasing criticism about the BBC's impartiality under the current set up. Director general Greg Dyke and new chairman Gavyn Davies are both former Labour Party supporters.

Downing Street has even invited Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith to nominate members of his party for the role. However, Smith has decided to let individual party members apply for the job themselves.

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