Jeremy Wright has been appointed as secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS), following Matt Hancock’s post-Chequers shift to the department of health. Sceptics are already questioning Wright’s suitability for the job, however, given that his online presence is almost non-existent.
Trained in law, Wright has been installed as attorney general for England and Wales since 2014. Today (9 July) marks the first time the MP for Kenilworth and Southam has been named a secretary of state, as well as the first time he has officially worked for DCMS.
Political commentators have been quick to point out that Wright may find himself slightly bewildered by the ‘digital’ and ‘media’ aspects of his job, given that he hasn’t tweeted since 2015. The @JeremyWrightPPC account sprang up in April 2015 – just ahead of that year’s general election – and was used just five times as he campaigned for re-election.
Wright published three retweets and two original statements, the first of which was ‘Set up my official Twitter account’.
Another account – @JeremyWrightMP1 – was created tonight, although it is unclear whether or not it is a parody.
Additionally, Hansard data shows that during Wright’s entire 13-year tenure speaking in parliament he has only uttered the word “digital” twice (a fact noted by TalkSport’s incoming political editor). In the same period he has voted on just one bill relating to the digital economy.
He does, however, appear to keep his Facebook page updated with regular constituency-related posts.
The lack of digital presence is in stark contrast to his predecessor. Hancock, who was culture secretary for just six months, campaigned for an improvement in tech investment in Britain and famously launched his own app. His predecessor, Karen Bradley, arguably made substantially less of an impact on the digital industry during her own 19-month tenure, however did play a role in delaying the Fox/Sky merger.
Wright declares himself to be a fan of golf and cricket, although is apparently “so useless" at the latter that "no-one will play with me”. As for culture – the MP used to play the trumpet, “but can barely get a note out of the instrument these days”.
Wright’s voting record proves him to be a conservative politician in both the social and economic sense. He has generally voted against gay rights, for instance, while consistently voting for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits.
He has also consistently voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed – an intriguing stance given the reliance the sectors of digital, culture, media and sport place on diverse new talent.
Additionally he once voted for ending financial support for some 16-19 year olds in training and further education.
Now, he will be the link governmental link for an industry dealing with GDPR fallout, media transparency, broadcaster upheaval and – crucially – the international question of social media regulation.