Maria Miller, the 48-year-old MP for Basingstoke, has been appointed as the new Culture Secretary, taking over at the DCMS from Jeremy Hunt, who has been rewarded for his handling of the BSkyB fiasco by being promoted to head the Department of Health.
Maria Miller was a junior minister in the Department for Work and Pensions and is a wild card replacement for Jeremy Hunt as Culture Secretary. She has no previous experience in the Arts, bar a stint at Saatchi & Saatchi working in marketing and advertising. This seems to be par for the course for this government’s attitude towards the second largest driver of cash in the UK economy, after financial services.
Miller was previously a minister for disabled people, her appointment will be a significant promotion for a relatively low profile minister, who takes on a difficult task, filling the shoes of the highly criticised Hunt. This remains a wait and see situation. Will we finally have a sympathetic ear at the DCMS? Or will she be another shredder!
In addition to her DCMS responsibilities, she will also become Minister for Women and Equalities, a position previously held by Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone. Maria Miller, or the new Minister for Equality, does not want gay couples to have the right to adopt (or the right for lesbians to receive fertility treatment) and wants to redefine homophobia, racial hatred and prejudice to be simply catagorised as acts of “freedom of speech”.
By adding other roles to her responsibilities as Culture Secretary in what is already considered a wide-ranging and sometimes ‘disconnected’ department, it is a lot to take on. Miller said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the culture secretary by the prime minister and am very much looking forward to tackling the many challenges that the role will bring.”
Miller inherits a department already overloaded, covering a wide range of disciplines including sports, arts, and media . She will also have to deal with the Olympic legacy, the final report on the Leveson Inquiry into Phone Hacking and an underfunded arts sector, suffering from major public-spending cuts, under the Torries’ watch.