Lisa Nandy says ‘the hard work begins today’ after Culture Secretary appointment

Labour MP Lisa Nandy said she will do everything in her power to “change lives for the better” as the newly appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The 44-year-old, who had been shadow cabinet minister for international development prior to the General Election, takes over from Conservative Lucy Frazer, who lost her Ely and East Cambridgeshire seat to the Liberal Democrats.

Ms Nandy said she is “thrilled” to be appointed to the department by Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer.

“Its industries give meaning to millions of lives and bring communities in our towns, villages and cities together,” she said in a statement.

“As Culture Secretary, I will do everything I can to harness the limitless potential of the extraordinary people in these amazing sectors to drive economic growth, unlock opportunities for everyone and change lives for the better.

“The hard work begins today.”

Thangam Debbonaire had been shadow culture secretary, before the UK went to the polls but she lost her Bristol Central seat to Green party co-leader Carla Denyer, one of the few Labour casualties on election night.

In her new role, Ms Nandy is set to oversee a review of the TV licence fee.

Last year, Ms Frazer announced a review into the fee, which funds much of the BBC as the household charge was raised by £10.50, taking the total to £169.50, following a two-year freeze of it.

Under the BBC Funding Model Review’s terms of reference, an expert panel will consider what corporation services could become fully commercial and how much business revenue the broadcaster could generate.

It will also look at the funding arrangements of the BBC World Service and minority language broadcasting.

The Tory Government previously said it is committed for the licence fee to remain until the current charter period ends in December 2027.

Labour leaders will decide what happens next with BBC, after considering a report by the panel which is set for release in the autumn.

In 2020, Ms Nandy wrote an article for news website LabourList stating she will “defend a free media” before setting out how she thought the BBC should be reformed.

“My Labour government would tax social media companies to create a fund to support local media and investigative journalism, building on the local democracy reporters scheme,” she wrote.

“I would protect the licence fee and my government would not hold the BBC to ransom over appointments and funding.”

She said the BBC should move to a model of “being owned and directed by licence fee holders – who can help decide the trade-offs that the BBC must make to secure its future”.

Her mother, Luise Nandy, was a TV producer best known for the former, long-running news review show What The Papers Say, and the studio debate programme, Gloves Off, in 2000.

The Labour Party has committed in its manifesto that it will work “constructively with the BBC and our other public service broadcasters”, making culture and the arts more accessible and investing in the creative industry as part of its industrial strategy.

Wigan MP Ms Nandy previously weighed into a controversy surrounding former BBC chairman Richard Sharp, when questions emerged about the former Goldman Sachs banker’s role in then-prime minister Boris Johnson getting an £800,000 loan guarantee.

Labour Party Conference 2023
Former shadow overseas development secretary Lisa Nandy (Peter Byrne/PA)

She said Mr Sharp made “significant errors of judgment” and his position was “increasingly untenable”, when asked if he should resign by the BBC.

Mr Sharp stepped down following a report into the matter and was then replaced by Samir Shah, who had been a production company Juniper TV chief executive.

Ms Nandy has previously also been outspoken in her support of music venues and nightclubs during the pandemic.

Her appointment was “warmly” welcomed by the Music Venue Trust (MVT).

The charity, which campaigns for grassroots venues, said: “Lisa arrives into the role at a critical time for live music in our communities, with the opportunity to deliver real, positive, long lasting change that can protect, secure and improve the nation’s grassroots music venues.

“We look forward to meeting with her as soon as possible so we can begin the work of getting British music back to its rightful position as the beating heart of our towns and cities.”

In 2022, Ms Nandy told the Times Radio that nightclubs need to reopen to help level up towns while shadow levelling up secretary.

She said: “Every single town has lost a nightclub they feel very strongly about, that was part of our history and our heritage, in Wigan we had northern soul and we miss all of that greatly.

“Live music venues that used to sustain bands like The Verve, who come from Wigan, who could gig and play around Wigan, now just have to travel into Manchester to do it, those things have disappeared in the last couple of decades.

“There is a serious point behind this because as well as providing those opportunities for young people from every part of the country and the culture and the history and the identity that goes with it, it means we’re reflected in the national story.”

Hollywood actors strike
Equity general secretary Paul Fleming (Ian West/PA)

UK Music and performing arts union Equity have both warned the Government that their sectors need help.

Tom Kiehl, chief executive of UK Music, the trade body which represents the collective interests of the UK music industry, called on “music-loving” Sir Keir to help reverse the decline in music teachers and bolster the sector on Friday.

He also said Ms Nandy coming in as Culture Secretary was “fantastic news and provides further momentum behind the new Government’s ambitious plans for music and culture”.

Mr Kiehl added: “UK Music has worked with Lisa previously, including collaborating on a successful event on music talent development at the Old Courts in her Wigan constituency.

“Her commitment to music means she is ideally placed to help UK Music and its members tackle the opportunities and challenges that the music industry faces, and contribute to sustained growth for our sector.”

Paul Fleming, general secretary of performing arts union Equity, said: “We’ll be pressing the new administration to set out a long-term plan for UK arts funding to reach the European average, to tackle the high upfront fees charged by casting directories, to make Universal Credit fairer for freelancers, to ensure public subsidy only supports work on decent union terms, and to fight for better rights in the video games and TV commercials sector.”

UK Music and other entertainment unions have also previously raised questions about artificial intelligence use, with Mr Kiehl calling for the Government to act before “AI tech companies destroy our world-beating industry”.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry launched a probe into film and TV in July 2023 and investigated what needs to be done to maintain and enhance the UK as a global destination for production.

It concluded amid the election it is “deeply concerned about skills, working conditions, and the retention of staff in the industry” and the industry “faces considerable uncertainty”.

There had been hopes that a future government would tackle these workforce issues.