In little over 18 months the DCMS has been led by four different secretaries of state, with Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough, the latest minister to come through the department’s revolving door.
Nicky Morgan has been appointed the latest secretary of state for the department of digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS), joining Boris Johnson’s newly assembled Brexit-driven cabinet. Morgan’s move back into the big seats represents another change of stance from the once Remainer, who later became the Conservative flagbearer of an ‘ultra-soft’ Brexit. Last September, Morgan, then chairwoman of the Treasury select committee, unequivocally ruled out ever working for the current prime minister.
“The answer is no, I would not serve in a Boris Johnson cabinet,” she told the BBC.
Yet on 25 July, she accepted a position to do just that, making a ‘cabinet comeback’ after her last appearance as education secretary under David Cameron.
Despite the Bojo uturn, Morgan is likely to prove a popular figure, at least in personality; she has proved herself to be a spirited performer during a tumultuous political environment.
Last year, she showed indications of her stance on gambling, clashing with former Chancellor Philip Hammond in relation to the government delaying its enforcement of the FOBT £2 wagering reduction.
Morgan accused the government of “prioritising the preservation of jobs in the gambling industry over the addiction of those who suffer from these machines”, writing in a blog for Conservative Home that the party was ruling with “heads not hearts” on the issue.
“At a time when the Conservative Party is putting the rest of the country through its own ideological rabbit hole in the form of Brexit, we need to be alive to adding to the impression that the fixing of a social harm can wait a few months while we find a way to replace lost revenue,” she said.
Unafraid of delivering a spank or two, while Morgan’s position on the FOBT issue was made clear, her statements provide little evidence as to how she views the amusements industry. It is the job of Bacta and related trade associations to ensure the new secretary of state is aware that £100 maximum stake FOBTs had very little in common with the rest of the industry’s retail environment; a process they will now repeat for the fourth time in under two years.
In achieving this, the industry will not be able to rely upon the relatively limited understanding of Mims Davies; her all too brief term as minister for Sport & Civil Society, in which she oversaw the government’s relationship with the industry for just nine months, ended in the cabinet reshuffle.
Four secretaries of state in as many years, the DCMS will find itself back to square one when it comes to grasping the issues of the amusements and soft wing of the gambling industry. But at the DCMS, that’s become the default position for a department that prefers to defer when it comes to amusements and soft gaming and a triennial review that redefines the word triennial.