Lisa Nandy Named New U.K. Culture Minister

Lisa Nandy has been named the U.K.’s new culture minister or, to give the title its full name, secretary of state for culture, media and sport. Nandy was appointed as part of the new cabinet by Keir Starmer, the new U.K. prime minister following the Labour Party’s history landslide election win on July 4, where it won 412 seats and ended 14 years of Conservative rule.

Nandy takes over from the Conservative minister Lucy Frazer, who was appointed in February 2023 by outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Frazer was one of several cabinet ministers who lost their seats in the election. Another to lose their seat was Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Thangam Debbonaire, who had been expected to assume the role in government but lost heavily to her local Green Party rival.

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Nandy, who has been a member of Parliament since 2010, previously served as the shadow cabinet minister for international development and shadow housing minister. She represents the constituency of Wigan, in the North of England. Although she has no direct links to the media and entertainment industries, having spent most of her life in the public sector, according to a Times of London profile, Nandy’s mother was a television producer.

In 2020, she penned an article for a Labour website titled: “I will defend a free media. Here’s how the BBC should be reformed.” In it she suggested that were she ever Prime Minister she would tax social media companies to fund local media and investigative journalism and would protect the BBC license fee. She also proposed re-structuring the BBC board. “The BBC should move to a model of being owned and directed by licence fee holders,” she wrote.

Nandy now enters office during a period on uncertainty for the U.K.’s screen sector, fuelled by the post-pandemic hangover and Hollywood’s writer and actor strikes, plus reduced budgets, a downturn in the TV ad market and a pullback in spend by the streamers that have several impacted the workforce.

Earlier this year, the Conservative government introduced a new 40% film tax credit for U.K. productions budgeted at under $19 million, aimed at boosting an independent film sector that was at a point of collapse (spend fell to just $150 million in 2023). While it was widely hailed by the film industry, many have already said there is much more work that needs to be down by the incoming government to protect a sector that has become one of the fastest growing in the British economy but is increasingly fragile.

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