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Maria Miller MP takes over tiller at DCMS
Tuesday 04 September 2012 12:40:24 by Andrew Ferguson

Cabinet reshuffles in the last decade have usually been of little interest to the broadband community, but with around £1 billion of Government money, and local authorities investing similar amounts, the new boss at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is very much of interest.

Maria Miller the MP for Basingstoke has been appointed as the new Culture Secretary, and we wait with baited breath to see whether she will be bring in sweeping changes and provide a strong vision, or will the existing status quo that seems to be how the BDUK operates continue.

The likelihood of Jeremy Hunt leaving this role, was made more certain when he publicly stated an ambitious vision for the UK to have the fastest broadband in Europe. The question now is whether that was a personal vision, or a collective vision of the DCMS, and thus will survive this change in command.

One disappointment is that Maria Miller does not appear to have a twitter account, and while twitter is far from perfect, it does make it easier for people to engage with the political process, and as a key part of the BDUK plan is digital engagement across the population, it will be interesting to see how long before the new Culture Secretary embraces the online world fully.

Many will say that a change of just one person cannot make much difference, but in regards to discussions with EU over delays regarding state aid approval for projects, a change may be precisely what is needed.

Comments

Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
Forgive me if I'm being judgemental and using stereotypes:

Female (broadband is generally something that interest men more than women);
Older than the last minister (less likely to be open to new ideas - is that a good thing in this instance?);
No prior experience of technology;
Specialises in marketing.

Expect lots of new initiatives, and little progress, I think. I hope I am proved wrong.
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
In addition, the Basingstoke exchange is 21CN enabled, and has FTTC available. So her own BB experiences or her constituents' BB concerns will not remind her of the problems of the rest of the country.

Hunt, in South West Surrey, looked to improve things for his constituents (not sure how successfully).
Posted by rayvon over 4 years ago
When asked what FTTC was she replied...I'm sorry I have no idea,but whatever it is can one claim it back on expenses....
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Basingstoke was a pretty bad area before the FTTC roll-outs, and apparently had locals pushing her as MP.

So it is very much wait and see.

Plenty of older MP's do engage in the online world successfully, and understand it too.
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
"Plenty of older MP's etc."

Appreciated Andrew, and my partner's 72 year old Dad is perfectly happy buying junk on Ebay, but cares nothing for how it works, nor how it will look in 10 or 20 years time.

If anything, politicians are less long-termists (is that a word?), as they see things in terms of 'the next election'. In that respect, there's little to choose between the old secretary and the new. Both politician's seats are South England, large majority seats, surrounded by other Conservative seats, so are fairly safe until 2015...
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
cont.

Perhaps factors like might be a benefit for the nation, as their majorities are safe enough that they can neglect their constituents more than a politician in a marginal.

One hopes that the second half of this government is more about generating (real and measurable) results, in a bid to get re-elected in 2015.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
On age, I think you are wrong, as the new Culture Secretary is 48, versus 45 of the out going. So should still be embracing change, rather than set in their ways.

A lot hinges on how briefings from civil service are done, and that is the great unknown.
Posted by systemx over 4 years ago
She is a minister and as such does not really need to know much about the nuts and bolts of telecomunications, but to set policy.
I doubt the health minister could spot a BCC (Basil-cell carcinoma) but that does not mean he is poor at his job.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago
@systemx

How can you be realistic when it comes to setting policy if you have no knowledge of what you're dealing with?

It's unlikely the conservatives will win the next election so all she needs to do is use her marketing skills to fob the public off for another 3 years with false promises.
Posted by KarlAustin over 4 years ago
otester - do you think the head man at Ford knows a fuel pump from a water pump?

This is why they have staff an advisers.
Posted by Thalgrum over 4 years ago
@Camieabz I live in Basingstoke, there are large parts of the town that get less than 2 meg speeds, and even in areas where you do get better speeds, a lot of the cabinets were not upgraded, I know the one on my street wasnt, I'd rather like to get fttc or fttp if they ever got around to doing it...
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@thalgrum The picture looks better than many other towns, Chineham to the North East seems to suffer from no Virgin Media, and speeds suggest some cabinets not enabled in that area. Perhaps because its on the fringe, so lines per cabinet are not commercially attractive.
Posted by NetGuy over 4 years ago
Personally (and perhaps 'cos I'm 5 years older than her), I'm far from disappointed to know she has no Twitter account.

Radio presenters and other shameless self-promoters are the stereotypes I put in the Twitter box.

If a business wants to use Twitter | Facebook, fine, but they deliberately alienate some of their potential customers.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@NetGuy

In the same way those that don't open their post will alienate those customers, when you prefer face to face sales.

Times are changing, and twitter need not be just 'I am at airport', 'Look at new car' type stuff
Posted by gr0mit over 4 years ago
I have met Maria on several occasions as a result of her support for basingstokes broadband rollout debacle. She seemed well informed and helpful. She attended meetings with the campaign, including meetings with open reach and the council. She has certainly helpe raise the profile of the need for broadband. I look forward to seeing how she uses this experience at a national level.
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