As Tony Blair assembles his new Cabinet, we wait to see how design will fit in. Will it remain loosely within the remit of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and so come under Tessa Jowell, successor to outgoing Culture Secretary and design aficionado Chris Smith, or will it find its way back to a bigger, more influential department?
Will it, indeed, have any home at all? With Cool Britannia behind him and design closely, if wrongly, linked to the Millennium Dome fiasco, will Blair champion it?
Most of our participants in this week’s VoxPop would like to see design back at the Department of Trade and Industry. It was put there by Margaret Thatcher, who created the design minister post, a Cabinet job that ran through successive Tory Governments. But it was always set within an incredibly busy ministerial portfolio.
Design has arguably had a higher profile under Blair, though not a proper home. Maybe now he should formalise arrangements, creating a ministry for design and innovation, possibly to sit within a revamped DCMS. The minister would work very closely with the Design Council, but with a roving brief to collaborate at a senior level with other Government departments as required.
Things are likely to get tough for the Government, with transport issues and the future of tourism in the wake of foot-and-mouth disease still to be resolved, the question of the Euro to be answered and a downturn hitting some business sectors. It cannot continue to treat design as a sideshow, but should harness its potential to help with such issues across Government. That way it might gain access to some of the UK’s most creative brains – and rekindle the idea of an entrepreneurial Britain.