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Mr. Chris Smith: Does the right hon. Lady agree with the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth), who said this afternoon that "cool Britannia" is a phrase that has precious little meaning to people in the real world?

Mrs. Bottomley: I am going to explain why the use of the phrase "cool Britannia" has been hijacked and abused by the Labour party, why it is absolutely to the point and why the Opposition motion is so appropriate.

New Labour believes in rubbishing the past. It really went for cool Britannia, the rebranding and rebadging of Britain, as if there were was no tomorrow, because it did not want to remember the past.

Mr. Smith: During her time at the Department of National Heritage, the right hon. Lady issued at least five press releases about cool Britannia. I have issued not a single one since I took over after the election last year.

Mrs. Bottomley: My purpose in speaking was not to engage in trivial exchanges with the right hon. Gentleman. I will talk about his record in a moment, but I wanted to make a more profound point about the significance of the phrase "cool Britannia" and its use by the Labour party, as opposed to its use by me in the context of tourism.

I was Secretary of State for National Heritage, a Department that took great pride in our history, architecture and cultural traditions and wanted to convey the message that we were creating a country that was innovative in film, tourism, hospitality and food. The Secretary of state rightly praises the film industry. He will know that all the filming for "The Full Monty" and "Mrs. Brown" was completed way before the last election. The reason why the phrase has been wrapped around new Labour's necks, whether or not the right hon. Gentleman used it, is that the Prime Minister has exploited that message comprehensively.

On the day when the House was cutting lone-parent benefit, the Prime Minister was entertaining another 400 celebrities, media personalities and pop stars at No. 10. This is a Prime Minister who has systematically sought to exploit the "cool Britannia" phrase, which has been spun out of No. 10. It has boomeranged into Labour's face because new Labour dislikes the past--anything that

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represents the flourishing economy that the Conservatives left in place and anything that represents old Labour. Each is equally unappetising to new Labour.

Mr. Loughton: Far from distancing himself from the ethos of cool Britannia, as the Secretary of State is now doing, does my right hon. Friend recall that in April, the Prime Minister interrupted his tour of the middle east--specifically, Saudi Arabia--to hold a press conference in defence of cool Britannia? Such was the importance that the right hon. Gentleman attached to the issue that he interrupted an extremely important foreign tour for it.

Mrs. Bottomley: My hon. Friend has the message precisely right. When I was Secretary of State for National Heritage, my right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister would not have uttered the words "cool Britannia" for any amount of persuasion had I tried to encourage him. It was an appropriate phrase to promote the tourism industry, but it is not the way to badge a Government. That is its significance in the context of the motion tabled by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex): I endorse entirely what my right hon. Friend says. We all know exactly what the Prime Minister and the Labour Government were trying to do in rebranding this country cool Britannia. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it does not matter who is in power, as these great renaissances in the arts, music, poetry and painting in capital cities go in cycles? I am now an old man of 50 and twice in my lifetime London has been deemed to be the cultural capital of the world. If the good Lord spares me, it may happen once again, but it has absolutely nothing to do with anything that Labour has done, and very little to do with what we did.

Mrs. Bottomley: I beg to disagree with my hon. Friend, as I think that it has a great deal to do with what the Conservative Government did. The fact that, under the Conservatives, Britain set an economic and cultural framework in which initiative could flourish has meant that Britain has been the place in which many mobile and creative industries have wanted to invest. The growing pressure towards regulation, the introduction of a minimum wage and Labour's municipalising tendencies threaten to stultify much of the innovation that is taking place. That leads me to other serious issues surrounding today's motion.

It is disappointing that the Secretary of State lost responsibility for voluntary organisations, volunteering and the voluntary sector, as they gave the Department a serious flavour and registered the significance of that work and that theme in community development. I endorse the approach of working with the regions. The Department is an important lever for economic and social development, and I frequently emphasised that role.

Let me return to today's motion and the Government's preoccupation with style over substance. Various hon. Members have referred to the biggest ever increase in funding. I suggest that the biggest ever increase in funding was the input of well over £1 billion a year to the sector from the national lottery. Last week's announcement may have meant £290 million more in taxpayers' money, but in the same time frame the sector has lost £1 billion in lottery money. Worse, the Secretary of State has

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essentially allowed the Chancellor to do what successive Chancellors will inevitably want to do--to nationalise the lottery. Not only is lottery money going into education and health but the document issued last week is full of ways in which the Secretary of State is seeking to control, nationalise or municipalise the lottery stream. That is why it is so dangerous to the arts, culture and sport.

Mr. Caplin: I realise that the announcement was on Friday, but did the right hon. Lady miss the point made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that lottery funding for sport, arts, heritage and charities has been reinforced for 2001 onwards? That has been widely welcomed by all those sectors as the guarantee that many Conservative Members were seeking during the passage of the Lottery Bill.

Mrs. Bottomley: I regret to disagree with the hon. Gentleman. Those sectors now receive only one sixth of the lottery stream instead of one fifth. The document is riddled with implications that there will be more interference and control over the way in which the money is spent. It suggests that there will be more influence from regional development agencies, and more control--other ways of municipal agencies getting their hands on the money.

That brings me to another profound difference between Labour and the Conservatives. Labour's preoccupation with the concept of cool Britannia--from which the Secretary of State rightly now distances himself--is all about the future, not the past. The millennium dome is a futuristic building with little interest in the past history of Britain or the naval college alongside it. It is all part of Labour's branding, its image and its much-repeated phrases.

The other true reflection of the nature of the Labour Government is their renaming of the Department as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, by which they could not have said more. The Labour Government have a soviet approach to culture. Their controlling, municipalising instincts are always there. They also have a soviet use of language. Time and again, the Prime Minister talks about the people's decision, the people's party, the people's palace and goodness knows what else. That is really a way of saying, "We have decided and we shall railroad our policies through, come what may".

The Conservative approach is much more to recognise that culture cannot be dominated and controlled from the centre and that it requires plural sources of funding. It is interesting that no Minister went to the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts event. During my term of office, I do not believe that I missed a single ABSA event. If I did, I am sure that a deputy stood in for me. I recall going time and again to ABSA events because I wanted to demonstrate as a Minister the degree to which what mattered was not only central Government funding, local authority funding, the box office and the philanthropy of individuals: it was businesses and others saying, "We want to play a part in the cultural life of this country". Labour always demonstrates that centralising, controlling tendency. The gut instinct comes through, come what may.

The real truth about last week's statement is that it was an effort to get the spin through in advance. This morning, I was asked to speak on the "Today" programme about

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today's statement on mental health reform. I said, "I do not know anything about it. I am only a Member of Parliament. I am not a journalist who gets all the information leaked in advance." I was given the information that the programme had at its disposal and I was then able to do the interview.

Earlier this week, we had the Legg report. Again, I was telephoned by a journalist asking me to comment. I said, "I am only a humble Member of Parliament. I am not a journalist who gets all the information leaked in advance."

Similarly, last Friday, from early in the morning, we had a distorted account of what was about to be announced because the Secretary of State did not want the confiscation of £1 billion from the lottery to be highlighted; he wanted the additional £290 million in taxpayers' money to appear in flashing lights. In addition, he was concealing the most serious aspect of that announcement--the death knell of the English tourist board. His consultation paper set out four options, none of which recognised the possibility that the English tourist board--with its weakness and its strengths--would continue in the role that it has performed over many years, and with increasing authority.

It was on tourism that the Select Committee rightly condemned the Department under the leadership of the Secretary of State. Tourism was slighted by the new title of the Department, which includes almost everything else one can imagine. It is difficult enough to decide what to call a Department, but why omit tourism, which generates more new jobs, great prosperity for Britain and a vital industry throughout the country?

I return to my right hon. Friend's motion on the emphasis on spin and style over substance. The Secretary of State is shameless in his selective reading of quotations. He did it again on Monday, when he referred to the English tourist board's press release following the statement, and he has done it time and again today. If he will forgive me, I shall complete some of the quotations that he used. He referred to the English tourist board's so-called welcome. David Quarmby, chairman of the ETB, said:


That does not sound like a whole-hearted endorsement of a consultation exercise that leaves no scope for the English tourist board to continue.

There has been an outcry because the Secretary of State not only made the announcement outside Parliament but allowed only seven weeks for consultation. Does it occur to hon. Members that the following seven weeks are the busiest of the year for the tourism industry? August is also the time when local authorities tend not to meet; it is a time of year when people go on holiday. The regular cycle of such meetings often omits August.


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