The new DCMS secretary of state may not have much experience when it comes to digital, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give him a chance. One thing’s for sure though: Whether you want to call it musical chairs or house of cards, Theresa May’s latest Cabinet reshuffle has really shook things up in Whitehall.
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few days, let me sum it up for you: It started with Boris Johnson resigning as foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt being roped into replacing him and Matt Hancock stepping into Hunt’s shoes at the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
This left the position of secretary of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wide open. Such a great opportunity for the prime minister to choose a Hancock replacement with great digital and cultural merits. Her pick? Jeremy Wright.
Although most people were probably surprised at May’s decision, it’s difficult to speak ill of Wright. Mainly because prior to Monday evening, I had only a very vague idea of who he was. So far, I have learnt a few key facts about our new digital secretary:
- He does not have Twitter. Wright signed up to Twitter in April 2015, tweeted five times between the 4th and 16th of April 2015 and must’ve decided he had enough, as the Twitter account has remained inactive since. On the night of his DCMS appointment, a new Jeremy Wright Twitter account was created, but it is likely to be a spoof account.
- Wright has not been particularly focused on the digital agenda during his political career. According to parliamentary records, during his 13 years in Parliament, he has mentioned the word “digital” twice.
- He likes cricket, both watching and playing. Although he is so bad at the latter that “no-one will play” with him.
- He has been the attorney general for four years.
Ahead of showing up to DCMS yesterday, Wright wrote on his constituency website:
“Very excited to be starting a new job this morning as secretary of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, a department whose work has a huge impact on our heritage, the things we enjoy now and on our national future.”
So far, Wright has received criticism for his lack of digital prowess, and he’s only been in a job for a day and a half. He has time and time again been compared to his predecessor Matt Hancock, who was a tech champion in government, keen on driving the digital agenda forward. While Hancock’s loss will be felt, don’t write Wright off just yet. A man, who continues to enjoy playing cricket even though no one wants to play with him, is a man who doesn’t give up.
It will be a sharp learning curve for Wright, but having spent four years as attorney general, he ought to at least be up to date with GDPR and internet regulations. Give Wright a chance to get it right!
Hancock and a digital NHS
Theresa May already gave the NHS a 70th birthday present in form of extra funding, but now she has given them the additional gift of Matt Hancock
For many in the health sector, Hancock’s appointment as health secretary was seen as one of the highlights of the reshuffle.
The NHS has been plowing forward with technology-enabled health and care for many years, and while there has been significant progress, Hancock could provide the boost the health and care sector needs.
The government is in the process of developing a 10-year plan for the NHS, which Hancock will now make a significant contribution to, driving the digital revolution promised by Hunt.