Controversy surrounds Gordon Brown’s Government as we go to press, but design still has much to thank the Prime Minister for.
He made it into the Hot 50 two years ago when, as Chancellor, he commissioned Sir George Cox to create the Cox Review, which set the agenda for design in Government. This time, though, it was ostensibly his enlightened Cabinet and ministerial appointments that earned him a place.
The disbanding of the Department of Trade & Industry last summer took away the Design Council’s old paymaster. But the creation of two new departments in its place – the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform under John Hutton, and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, headed by John Denham – clarified the Government’s priorities, with the Design Council now answerable to the latter.
Brown’s masterstroke, or so we thought, was the appointments at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which also impinges on design. Former Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell was given the new role of Olympics minister, in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Her replacement, James Purnell, has long been a staunch supporter of the creative industries and, with the support of culture minister and arts fan Margaret Hodge, we hoped to see him flourish.
Purnell’s shift to Work and Pensions following the resignation of Peter Hain in January came as a surprise. We can only wish Andy Burnham, his successor at the DCMS, joy with his new portfolio and hope that his appointment is longer-lived.