Trade support for coalition government
13.05.10 | Bookseller News Team

Jeremy Hunt has been made secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport, as the UK’s new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition continues to be met with a positive response from the book trade.

Meanwhile, library campaigners are anticipating progress on a Library Development Agency under the new regime, though a minister responsible for this department has not yet been named. Ed Vaizey, who became a prominent speaker for libraries as shadow culture minister, said on his twitter feed that he had not yet been contacted: “Cld say I am waiting by the phone but I have a mobile”.

Hunt told the “Today” programme this morning (13th) that no area of his department would be protected from the cuts that are widely expected across government departments, though added that he wanted to save money without affecting core services. Simon Juden, chief executive of the PA, said: “As a former publisher, Jeremy Hunt is very alive to industry issues and in our conversations with him over the last couple of years he has shown a good grasp of the challenges we face.” Hunt has run his own educational publishing business, Hotcourses.

Former Tory home secretary Ken Clarke has taken the role of justice secretary, putting libel reform among his responsibilities, while Vince Cable is made minister for business and banking, a new position but one which is likely to cover the implementation of the Digital Economy Act, passed in the “wash up” period shortly before the dissolution of parliament.

Jeremy Hunt will be secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport.

Juden added that the coalition “raises many questions as to how this government will effect change and work cohesively in future”. But of the individuals, he added: “Ken Clarke is a seriously heavyweight politician who knows the issues around defamation law, and we look forward to working with him on this critical topic.”

There are established links between Cable and the industry body, Juden added, saying: “We look forward to working with him to make sure the Digital Economy Act is implemented in a way that makes sense for the industry and all stakeholders.”

Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association said: “Working with a coalition government will be a novel experience for us, but we very much look forward to sitting down with its representatives to discuss the issues that especially concern us. These include the need to support retailing, especially by the freezing of business rates; a clear policy not to impose VAT on printed books; the requirement to support copyright, particularly in the digital world; and the establishment of a framework to ensure that libraries are not permitted to loan e-books free in the future.”

Library campaigner Desmond Clarke said he was looking forward to progress on the Library Development Agency concept, backed by the Tories when they were in opposition. He said: “We desperately need strong advocacy otherwise libraries will disappear, as they won’t have an effective voice.”

Meanwhile, Random House is readying for publication the first in its series of four unedited diary volumes by former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell. The Alastair Campbell –Diaries: Prelude to Power 1994–1997 (3rd June) will open with the death of former Labour leader– John Smith on 12th May 1994 and culminate in Labour’s first victory in the polls. The later volumes are likely to be released at six-monthly intervals.

However, Suzie Mackenzie’s biography of Gordon Brown appears to be struggling to find a new home, after Bloomsbury terminated the contract in a dispute over the publication date. Mackenzie’s agent Clare Alexander said she was unsure the book “would happen now”, but would not be drawn on the reasons. Tony Blair’s “frank” memoir The Journey is due out in September

Author Louise Bagshawe was elected Conservative MP for Corby and east Northamptonshire, while former Ottakar’s chairman Philip Dunne was re-elected as Conservative MP for Ludlow. Iain Duncan Smith, at one time a director of Janes Publishing, was named secretary of state for work and pensions.

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