There’s a new Prime Minister, which means it’s time for yet another Culture Secretary.
Nicky Morgan is the latest minister in a job that’s become a revolving door in government. Speaking in the latest issue of Music Week, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said he has now dealt with four ministers at DCMS since he took the job two years ago (Karen Bradley, Sigrid fan Matt Hancock, Jeremy Wright and now Morgan.)
Morgan is actually the seventh cabinet minister in the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) hot seat in just over five years.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & BRIT Awards, told Music Week that the trade body routinely meets up with new ministerial teams and advisors at both DCMS and BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), which is now headed up by Andrea Leadsom.
Taylor said: “Many congratulations to the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP on her appointment as the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. As chair of the Treasury Select Committee she has demonstrated her commitment to British music, taking time to meet with us and discuss our policy interests.
“From her time in Education she will understand the background to our concerns over access to music in state schools and we will continue to press her to lobby her colleagues in DfE on this issue. We look forward to working with her.”
Morgan is probably best known to the wider public for a non-appearance on Have I Got News For You and falling out with Theresa May over the then PM’s expensive leather trousers, an episode dubbed trousergate. She was famously replaced on the show by a Mulberry handbag, though did later make an appearance.
Morgan had been sacked from the education job when May became PM in 2016
“I had a quick rise, so not surprisingly I had a really quick fall from grace as well,” she told The Observer. “Still, someone said to me: when you come to write the story of your life, no one’s going to want to see success after success.”
Despite being a Conservative One Nation moderate and Remainer who voted against a no-deal Brexit, Morgan now finds herself in a cabinet dominated by Brexiteers in big jobs (although she supported prominent Brexiteer Michael Gove for leader). In September 2018, she ruled out serving in a Johnson government after he made a “completely appalling” attack on May’s Brexit strategy.
While Morgan may have to fall in line with the rest of the cabinet on Brexit, the industry will be looking to her to support visa-free travel for touring musicians in the EU and UK.
During her spell as Education Secretary, she was criticised for suggesting arts subjects should not be chosen over STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) as “too many young people are making choices aged 15 which will hold them back for the rest of their lives”.
She later modified her stance by commenting that “a young person’s education cannot be complete unless it includes the arts”.
Morgan was chair of the Treasury committee since 2017. The committee looked into areas including SME finance, which is an important issue for the indie sector.
She previously served as Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
The 46-year-old MP describes her hobbies as “recreational running”. She grew up in Surbiton, attended a private school and Oxford University. She joined the Conservative party 30 years ago.
Morgan appears to be in the tradition of Culture Secretaries who have never actually shown much interest in culture. When the former City lawyer posts on social media about music, it’s usually about a concert at her church or a Gilbert & Sullivan performance in her Loughborough constituency.
But she will receive the usual warm welcome from trade bodies.
Congrats ?@NickyMorgan01? on becoming Secretary of State at ?@DCMS?. She has been a strong supporter of the music industry and always willing to engage with us (pictured here meeting the ?@UK_Music? Board last year). Wishing her all the best in the new role. pic.twitter.com/JJPBvEln5N— Michael Dugher (@MichaelDugher) July 25, 2019
Morgan should at least be up to speed with the big issues for the music business. She has previously attended a UK Music post-Budget roundtable in November, where she hung out with the likes of AIM’s Paul Pacifico, then PRS chief Robert Ashcroft and Michael Dugher.
No doubt the various industry attendees at that gathering will now be digging out Morgan's business card…