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Missing the wider story

Today’s big political story in the UK is the resignation, due to expenses she had claimed, of Maria Miller. Her ministerial post had been that of “Culture Secretary”; her brief had included the role of regulation of the media, and the whole wretched power-grab known as the Leveson Report.

It won’t have occurred to most of those in the Westminster Village who write and chat about such things, but for me, as a slash-and-burn small-government type, what I’d like to think of is that we get rid of such an Orwellian-sounding post as “Culture Secretary”.

The business of sport, media and the arts should not be under the control, or even vague oversight, of the State, in my view. Since when, for example, have the doings of Premiership footballers been the proper concern of politicians? In an age of crowdfunding platforms, and due to the continued philanthropic involvement in such matters, as well as plain good entrepreneurship, why should money be forcibly taken from people in tax to spend on art galleries or whatever? Why should a state interest itself in how the television industry is run (abolish the BBC licence fee, etc)? Getting rid of this ministry would be a part of a wider retrenchment of the State to what arguably are its core functions. At the very least, the scrapping of this post, and the associated quangos it deals with, would signal that we haven’t given up on the noble idea of rolling back the State.

Needless to say, I am dreaming impossible dreams. It may have something to do with it being such a gloriously sun-kissed April morning here in London.

16 comments to Missing the wider story

  • Runcie Balspune

    Be quiet Jonathan! You’ll blow the whole gaff that none of the titles of the offices of state, from Prime Minister downwards, are actually required let alone in law or constitution. Look at the current cabinet titles and they differ little from when Lord High Everything Else Pooh Bah first read his little list.

  • Andrew Duffin

    You are indeed dreaming impossible dreams. Even as we “speak” the BBC is lobbying the government to extend its “licence” fee so that it applies to computers and smartphones. Apparently they have never heard of subcription-controlled broadcasting systems, or perhaps they just fancy being able to levy their own taxes.

    Enjoy the sunshine anyway!

  • CaptDMO

    Can we NOW simply ignore demands of “gender(and other) balance”.. because “FAIRNESS, WOMEN, or “Other”” as the dullard tripe that they are?
    At LEAST until the inevitable NEW term to justify unmerited amounts of cash, for dismal productivity, is “re-discovered”.

  • Sam Duncan

    It’s barely 20 years since the easiest way to characterize a fictional east-European totalitarian state was to invoke a Culture Minister. You saw one of them wandering about and you knew the place was Bad. Indeed, when the Major government saw fit to introduce a Culture Ministry, it felt the need to call it “The Department of National Heritage” in order not to scare the horses. That didn’t last long.

    So this is how low we have sunk. I’m looking from pig to man, and man to pig…

  • Regional

    The Culture Secretary lacks culture, how ironic, politicians are rent seekers who want to control our lives.

  • Mr Ed

    This case has worrying implications, and a very low threshold for conviction. Crude football banter criminalised.


  • I’ve always chuckled over the “Minister of Sport” and its “Culture” counterpart. Seriously? You need a government department to control sports? And culture?

    It is, as they say, to laugh.

  • Mr Ed


    I believe that we are simply copying the enlightened example of our European neighbours, and in particular the example of Mussolini, whom I understand, thanks to Paul Marks’ ever-informative nature, was the Pioneer of the Ministry for Sport.

    I think we prefer to pretend that we follow Walter Ulbricht.

    We used to laugh when they proposed a Ministry for Comedy and Silly Walks, we aren’t laughing now.

  • Rob

    I was going to write that we won the World Cup without a Minister for Sport, but a quick Google check proved me wrong by four years. still, I don’t think Quintin Hogg did that much in those four years.

  • Paul Marks

    According to Mr Ed the full job title is “Culture, Media, Sport and Equalities”.

    I often think it would have better not to have lived to see all this.

  • Schrödinger's Hippo

    Well, D’oh. If we look at the minimal requirements of the statist they are Command, Control and Communication. Thus under the statist mentality we must have a minister for communication, albeit Culture, Media and Sport. Actually under the statist mindset we need have to have a minister for every eventuality, along with the accompanying bureaucracy, pay scales and budget.

    There used to be a cabinet position of ‘minister without portfolio’, which was effectively ‘minister in charge of knee-jerk media reaction’. A good example of this was Denis Howell who was Callaghan’s minister without portfolio and, variously served as Minister for Drought, in the 1976 drought and shortly thereafter became Minister for Floods in the consequential flooding and afterwards became Minister for Snow in the 1978/9 winter.

  • Mr Ed

    According to Mr Ed the full job title is “Culture, Media, Sport and Equalities”.

    I often think it would have better not to have lived to see all this.

    1. But we still have mockery as a tool, even if it is not a weapon.

    2. When ‘equalities’ trumps ‘sport’ and all must finish/achieve but not win/lose is the point at which death becomes an attractive option, for oneself, naturally, not those who would have imposed it.

  • It is actually slightly worse than you think.

    Someone has got hold of a data set which purports to show how much certain cities receive in arts funding per head. Currently dripping in grievance is Bradford, allegedly only in receipt of £10.69 per head over 5 years, compared to neighbouring Leeds on a whopping £110.92.


    No doubt the new Culture Secretary, rather than abolishing himself, will be under pressure to make good the difference.

  • Paul Marks

    I am not good at mockery Mr Ed.

    Paul Stott – we all know the policy to get perfect equLity of Arts Council funding everywhere. Abolish the Arts Council (or whatever the vile thing is currenty called) then there would be perfect equalty – zero funding everywhere.

  • Mr Ed

    Currently dripping in grievance is Bradford, allegedly only in receipt of £10.69 per head over 5 years, compared to neighbouring Leeds on a whopping £110.92.

    Reminds me of Harry Enfield’s stock Yorkshireman retorting ‘Sophistication, sophistication? Don’t talk to me about sophistication, I’ve bin to Leeds!’

    For the benefit of Samizdat readers ultramar, Mr Enfield is a noted character comedian in the UK.