Helen Goodman took time out from charging the taxpayer for accountancy help in filling in her tax forms (a revelation just exposed in the papers) to deliver a rather astonishing speech at last week's Lead 2014 conference.
Despite being in a room that included quite a few natural Labour supporters, judging by the reaction on social media, the Shadow Culture Minister managed to turn off a large proportion with her proposals to increase regulation.
Even more shocking was her claim that "excessive marketing" was a contributory factor in the London riots of 2011. An unusual line to take maybe for those who thought it may have been down to more complex issues that led to social deprivation and the creation of a criminal social underclass. But maybe it was not so far removed from her boss, Harriet Harman, who claimed that looted trainers were the price we must pay for the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.
Maybe Goodman wasn’t particularly well-briefed on her audience and thought she was taking part in a rather naïve sixth-form debate and was after the popular vote, or had ventured on to a stage version of a Mumsnet discussion. Sadly, however, it is for this that she draws her salary from the public purse (plus £500 for her accountant to help her with her tax forms).
Delivering anything that looks like a co-ordinated policy to grow the creative economy still looks largely absent
In truth, the industry isn’t blessed with strong ministerial support at a government or opposition level. The Culture Secretary, Maria Miller (again, no stranger to hitting on the taxpayer for exotic expense claims), hasn’t exactly been a resounding success either. While she has been good at delivering lofty platitudes (a recent example being her earnest if banal comment that the arts "make our hearts sing"), delivering anything that looks like a co-ordinated policy to nourish or grow the creative economy still looks largely absent, despite the Coalition Government identifying it in 2011 as one of 11 key sectors where growth could be found. At this late stage in the Parliamentary cycle, it’s unlikely that we’ll see anything to make our own hearts sing any time soon.
Goodman’s unwise words also detracted somewhat from Harman’s attempts to show her party’s commitment to the creative sector. Last week, Harman, alongside the Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, announced the creation of a task force (a cliché beloved of politicians ever since the successful retaking of Port Stanley) charged with creating a policy blueprint (what else?) to better link up the education and the creative sectors and thereby deliver growth.
A laudable attempt to bolster the industry or more hot air? We’ll see. But, depressingly, no member of the advertising community was included within its steering group.
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