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UPDATE2 UK Gov Appoint Karen Bradley to Oversee Media and Broadband

Thursday, July 14th, 2016 (5:10 pm) - Score 1,017

It’s all change. The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has appointed the MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, Karen Bradley, to be her new Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which among other things oversees the Broadband Delivery UK project and telecoms matters.

The former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Home Office replaces the outgoing John Whittingdale MP, who admittedly had only been in the role for around a year after himself taking over from Sajid Javid MP, who also occupied the position for a similarly short period of time. Looking back, history shows that this is a very hard job to keep (here).

As for Karen Bradley herself, she originally graduated from Imperial College London with a BSc in Mathematics. After that she later went to work as a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser at Deloitte & Touche and then KPMG. She also spent a few years acting as a self-employed fiscal and economic consultant until entering politics.

A quick look at Karen’s Voting Record suggests that she doesn’t have all that much experience with matters of telecoms, broadband, media or even culture, but then her predecessors weren’t always terribly clued up on those subjects either. Karen does at least have a Facebook page, as well as a website, although we’re still trying to find if she has a Twitter account.. yet.

However Karen does have a history of campaigning for rural and farming issues and in keeping with that she is on record as pushing for better rural broadband connectivity. She has also tackled some Internet and cyber security related issues while acting as the Security Minister.

James Blessing, ISPA Chair, said:

“The new Government has a great opportunity to continue to put the Internet and digital at the heart of its priorities and forthcoming Industrial Strategy. We call on the new Secretaries of State for Culture and Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to recognise how essential the Internet industry is for the UK.

ISPs stand ready to deliver in the post-Brexit environment, however Government needs to play its part by ensuring the internet industry is not held back by excessive regulation, are encouraged to invest and innovate and can access talent and finance.”

Mind you, Karen isn’t the only minister that we should be keeping an eye on for broadband and Internet policy. For example, Theresa May’s old job of Home Secretary has now gone to Amber Rudd MP, who gets to oversee implementation of the highly technical and incredibly controversial Investigatory Powers Bill (IPBill). We doubt she’ll enjoy that.

Similarly Greg Clarke MP has replaced Sajid Javid MP as the new Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which often dips its feet into the realm of broadband and mobile connectivity; albeit with a focus on improving business connectivity. We should add that this is now called the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Finally, the long standing Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, who arguably has more involvement with broadband and Internet matters than most of his higher level counterparts, has been appointed to the Privy Council where he gets to update the Queen on Government changes and political matters. At the time of writing he still retains his position as the Digital Economy Minister (Entanet won’t be pleased).

Otherwise it remains to be seen what sort of direction or drive Karen and the other new appointments will bring to their respective roles, but as always we’ll be keeping a close eye on all the developments so the rest of you can save your sanity.

UPDATE 15th July 2016

Added a comment from the ISPA above.

UPDATE 16th July 2016

The axe finally fell on Ed Vaizey as Theresa May completed her risky clean sweep operation of the Cameron era. Ed is being replaced in his role as the Minister of State for Digital & Culture by Matthew Hancock MP, who said he was feeling “energised to take up the challenge to make UK tech & cultural centre of the world.”

Matt is the Conservative MP for West Suffolk and he has held a number of ministerial posts related to business and energy, although his last appointment before today was as the Government’s Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General.

On the broadband front he’s known to be largely supportive of Ed Vaizey’s direction via Broadband Delivery UK and the proposed 10Mbps USO, so we don’t expect much to change on that end of things. The outgoing Ed Vaizey suggested that Matt knows the tech sector well, although he was educated in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. However he did work “briefly” for his family’s computer software company, so there’s a little bit of IT.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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12 Responses
  1. MikeW says:

    Seems like Matthew Hancock gets Ed Vaizey’s job.

    He was on the PAC in the last government, and ended up accusing Margaret Hodge of putting an anti-government bias on reports.

    1. NGA for all says:

      It is not as if MH wrote the reports or indeed the NAO reports! Let’s see what the CMS Select Committee inquiry into Broadband report says on Tuesday.

      I hope we get some of the new SOS’s talent for forensic detail. Her work on the Modern Slavery Act is much to be admired. In fact it is a astonishing piece of legislation. If we do get some of that forensic detail we are likely to get most of phase 1 funds recycled back into in-fill activity.

      There is an upside to the scrutiny although you may not like it much. There is no reason from an national economic perspective not to push on with a more aggressive plan for a transition to fibre access. The learnings on costs and customer demand shows it is not unreasonable to push on.

      Hopefullly, the more complete separation of Openreach will allow an auditable set of investment numbers to emerge, and the Ofcom NGA Cost Modelling exercise will verify formally the presence of an appropriate level of BT capital in the BDUK process.

    2. NGA for all says:

      And we should salute Ed Vaizey. He put up with a lot of nonsense from BT arising from the a contract agreed by Jeremy Hunt one month before the Olympics, but the work proceeded and the money is emerging slowly to do a much more substantive job if the will is there. He deserved a better response given the resources made available to BT. I look forward to a FTTP cluster appearing in Wantage.

    3. MikeW says:

      More veiled accusations of fraud. I expect no less, of course.

    4. NGA for all says:

      @MikeW When so many are being excluded, the question should be asked and an answer forthcoming.

    5. MikeW says:

      Questions fine. Plans fine. Targets fine. Aiming higher, fine.

      Your accusation is that BT is hiding money. And have no intention of using it for coverage. And that all it takes to find it, free it, and spend it on more coverage is have “some of that forensic detail” look into it.

      The mere act of having a politician look into it is enough to magically “lead to more investment and more coverage”. Just by looking. Wow.

      Do you believe what you write?

  2. fastman says:

    NGA different day =– same riduclous ask — Hopefullly, the more complete separation of Openreach will allow an auditable set of investment numbers to emerge, and the Ofcom NGA Cost Modelling exercise will verify formally the presence of an appropriate level of BT capital in the BDUK process. — just because you cant see the numbers does not mean they are false !!!!!

    1. NGA for all says:

      @Fastman, there is progress on the costs so there is no reason why there should not be progress to itemise the capital contribution.

      It should lead to more investment and more coverage.

      It is ridiculous that we cannot simply verify each capital payment.

    2. Gadget says:

      @NGA – I’d agree if the appointed, professional auditors could not verify the requirements of the contract, but we have not evidence from their completed projects and ad-hoc work that there is anything amiss.

    3. TheFacts says:

      @NGA – what do you mean by ‘verify each capital payment’? What level of detail?

    4. NGA for all says:

      @The Facts – NAO I (2013) stated c£358m BT capital contribution to phase 1 allowable costs. It would be good to see that come off the c£26k per cab identified in the CMS evidence. Phase 1 is assumed to be 4m premises or c22,500 cabs – so we should be a capital contribution average c£15k a cabinet before the clawback of £258m(and counting) kicks in.

      This is what I would hope to see eventually. Total average cost per cab is identified, we really only need the total average BT contribution as above to be confirmed and I believe to be paid for the most part as phase 1 conclude or the money ends up as an accrual. – We can see the clawback but not how that will be translated into coverage.

  3. dragoneast says:

    I just find our touching faith in the power of politicians to be endearingly sweet. Rather as though we are forever trapped in the 1950s, and the rest of the century never happened.I shall look forward to my impending second childhood.

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