I really do wonder what the criteria, if any, there are for different positions within government. For the purposes of this post I’m talking specifically about the position of Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, a position currently filled by Sajid Javid, who was given the job after a cabinet reshuffle back in April.
Now, I’ll list the things this man is in control of below –
- arts and culture
- creative industries
- cultural property, heritage and the historic environment
- gambling and racing
- media ownership and mergers
- museums and galleries
- the National Lottery
- telecommunications and online
Leaving aside the point that sport, gambling and racing could probably do with having their own department for a more focused approach there, Mr Javid is a man who, and this is taken from the government page linked above –
Before being elected MP, he worked in business and finance. Aged 25, he became a Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank. He later moved to Deutsche Bank in London to help build its business in emerging market countries.
He’s a banker and not surprisingly studied economics at university. Now, I have no problem with him being in politics, but why this role? Where are the credentials to suggest that he is the right man to be in charge of such a department?
If I told you that he’d previously been both Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Financial Secretary to the Treasury, which incidentally he has been, I would suggest that makes a lot more sense.
Look at the list of his responsibilities again and I don’t see the connection between his skill set and what his day job is. It was the same situation with the previous incumbent Maria Miller (the lady forced to resign because of an expenses scandal.) She too studied economics at university and had a background in advertising.
In fact, you have to go back to the post-holder before her – Jeremy Hunt – to find someone who would appear to have at least some weight behind being installed in the role –
After university Hunt worked for two years as a management consultant at OC&C Strategy Consultants and then decided to pursue life as an English language teacher in Japan. Whilst living in Japan he became a proficient speaker of the Japanese language and enthusiast of modern Japanese and other east Asian cultures.
At least that’s something but is it too much to ask, too ridiculous a notion, to have someone in such a position whose passion is centred on what is a very important department and one that should be important to all who care about the arts and culture? I mean, to go back to my original point, Jeremy Hunt is now our healthy secretary so once again I must ask, just how are politicians chosen for positions within government?