Culture secretary

UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries resigns amid party leadership change

Nadine Dorries, British Culture Secretary, has resigned following the appointment of Liz Truss as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Dorries’ resignation will mean the UK’s arts and heritage sector will soon have its 11th culture secretary in the 12 years since the Conservative Party came to power in 2010.

Kemi Badenoch, the former Minister of State for Equality who unsuccessfully competed with Truss to become UK Prime Minister, is tipped to succeed Dorries as the next head of the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sports (DCMS). Truss is expected to start announcing his new cabinet today.

In her resignation letter, Dorries said one of her main aims as culture secretary was “to shift funding for the arts from London to the regions”.

She says: ‘I have secured additional funding of £43.5million from the Arts Council to be invested entirely outside London as part of [Boris Johnson’s] upgrading target, and by 2025 up to £24 million a year will be redirected from London to the most culturally deprived areas of our country.

Dorries will be remembered as a controversial and pugnacious DCMS leader who was closely linked to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

She was seen by critics as an enthusiastic facilitator of the so-called culture wars that came to dominate political debate in the UK. One of his last notable acts as Culture Secretary was to tweet a photoshopped image of Shakespeare’s 1953 film adaptation Julius Caesar, depicting former Chancellor Rishi Sunak as Brutus, about to plunge a knife into Caesar’s back, disguised as Boris Johnson. Fellow Tory MPs questioned the appropriateness of such an image after Sir David Amess, the Tory MP for Dorries, was stabbed to death in his constituency last October.

Dorries’ ability to attract publicity has sometimes distracted from the importance of her role. The work of the culture secretary is vast and multiple. They must protect and promote Britain’s long and varied cultural and artistic heritage in all its forms. They oversee the entire UK media. They must regulate data and technology companies and coordinate cybersecurity. They are in charge of the charity sector, the whole sports industry and many of the creative industries which collectively contribute over £100billion a year to the UK economy. The DCMS is supported by 47 public agencies and bodies. The UK cultural sector, according to DCMS figures, is responsible for 15% of UK gross value added and 14% of jobs in the country.

The new Culture Secretary will take office at a time of unique turmoil for the sector, linked to spiraling energy bills, inflation and ongoing post-pandemic labor issues.

Responding to the news of Dorries’ resignation, Museum Association director Sharon Heal explained on Twitter what a new culture secretary should do to support Britain’s museums.

“They should recognize the role that museums have played in the post-Covid community recovery and ensure that we can continue to do so with continued investment and capping of energy prices,” Heal said. “They should work across ministries, including health, education and environment, to support innovative programs using museum collections and expertise. And they should abandon the culture wars.

Politically, Dorries will be remembered for his pursuit of the Online Safety Bill, a legislative bill that seeks to impose a legal duty of care on big tech and social media companies such as Facebook and Google, which means they can be taken to court if users are subjected to illegal or harmful content while browsing their platforms.

The bill would “mitigate and manage the risk of harm to individuals,” Dorries said. But critics say it would open the door to a massive attack on free speech if it succeeds in passing through parliament. Dorries’ fellow Conservative MP, David Davis, recently told the Commons: ‘We all want the internet to be safe. Right now, there are too many dangers online, from videos spreading terror to posts promoting self-harm and suicide. But the bill’s well-meaning attempts to address these very real risks threaten to be the biggest accidental curtailment of free speech in modern history.

Dorries will also be remembered for his moves to privatize television broadcaster Channel 4. During an appearance before the select committee on November 24, 2021, Dorries claimed that Channel 4 was “receiving public money” while claiming that the broadcaster should be privatized.

His critics pointed to blunders that suggested Dorries misunderstood his memoir: Channel 4 is a free public service television network that is neither state-sponsored nor owned, and makes its money from selling of advertising. Dorries has also publicly stated that the Online Safety Bill “would make the internet in the UK the safest internet in the world”. She also said DCMS would allow UK citizens to better “film downstream”.

Dorries’ life before politics was not typical of a Tory minister. She grew up on a council estate in the deprived Breck Road area of ​​Liverpool, before moving to Runcorn, Cheshire as a teenager. She began her career training as a nurse in Warrington and was elected to parliament in 2005 as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire.

While an MP, she wrote 15 romance novels which sold over 2.5 million copies combined. She also made headlines – and temporarily lost the government whip – in 2012 after flying to Australia while still an MP. I’m a celebrity, get me out of here.

Dorries referenced her upbringing in Liverpool in her letter of resignation, writing: “I was determined to do all I could to ensure that those who thought theatres, museums, art galleries and libraries were not places for them to feel welcome. I was already aware that the street kids I grew up with had fewer opportunities to access the arts today than the kids I grew up with in the 1960s.”