With the various comings and goings in government these past few months as the Brexit turbulence continues, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May has had to appoint new personnel to key positions within the Cabinet and government. So it isn’t surprising that you might have missed the appointment of a new digital minister.
Jeremy Wright became the new secretary of state for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) in July and replaced Matt Hancock in the post. As the representative at the top table arguing for issues surrounding the digital economy he’s an important person to those of us who make a living through the internet in one form or another. Hancock had a reputation for being adept at using technology and social media. Wright is more of an enigma.
And on his appointment, he was widely lampooned for not having been active on Twitter since 2015. But is this a problem? It would be preferable, and unremarkable, if the day-in and day-out online activities of the minister charged with digital affairs meant he was active on social media. But that he isn’t doesn’t seem like a massive immediate problem. We assume that he is familiar with Twitter and Facebook and the like, and perhaps uses them on a personal (if not political) basis.
What is more concerning, and remains unknown, is whether or not the minister is familiar with online small businesses and has a depth of knowledge that will enable him to cogently promote them in Cabinet and government at this crucial time. SMEs will be ken impacted by Brexit and must be represented.
It is interesting to note that the British government has prepared and published a number of documents about Brexit and how specific sectors and industries, such as fishing and car manufacture, could be impacted by the UK leaving the European Union. The absence of online retail in those studies seems remiss considering how many jobs and incomes are now reliant of ecommerce marketplaces. A strong voice is vital, that is the job of the digital minister and we hope Wright is the person. We shall see.