As the polls closed on 12th December the people of this country had well and truly spoken – let us move on, together.
It was the biggest Conservative majority since 1987. Winning seats from Woking to Workington; from Kensington to Clwyd South; from Surrey Heath to Sedgefield; many of which had never been Conservative territory before. It was a huge signal from the electorate that they were fed up, exhausted by the groundhog day of the last three and a half years. They were voting for hope, for change, to finally get back to the issues that people really care about.
It was a strange moment for me as the clock struck 10, it marked the end of almost a decade as MP for Loughborough and the end of my time as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - both of which had been great privileges.
However, it turned out that leaving the Government was harder than leaving the EU and I was honoured to have been invited back by the Prime Minister to continue some of the great, and important work, we are doing at DCMS.
A new year provides an ideal opportunity to reflect, but also to look forward - and it looks set to be an exciting year for our department as our sectors continue to innovate and inspire across the UK.
In the digital space we have backed people with the ambition and ideas to succeed and helped propel growth in the UK’s tech sector to record levels. The UK is now the unrivalled, leading hub of the European tech industry and last year we generated more billion-dollar tech businesses than any other country on the continent.
We have a growing network of regional tech clusters developing revolutionary businesses - from Cambridge’s Darktrace in cyber security to the video games industry in Dundee. There are dynamic and thriving industries in Leeds, Oxford, Newcastle, Belfast, Cardiff and Bristol, among others. Edinburgh has the UK’s largest technology incubator, while Manchester’s digital sector has a turnover of more than £3bn.
Thanks to the hard work the UK is now in a position to spearhead the digital transformation of society. In Government we want to continue to maximise our potential through skills and infrastructure investment, through world-leading pro-innovation regulation alongside coherent policy development balancing our competitive advantages in ethical leadership with the country’s creative zeal.
And as digital technology reshapes our economy, jobs and work, we must capitalise on the new opportunities to improve public and private services, how we learn and connect, and help strengthen the communities we live in.
Investment in digital technology - and its endless possibility - will be integral to our plans to level up the country. And this levelling up has never been more important.
It’s clear that the UK’s economic prosperity is not spread equally across the nation. There is an urgent need to address this, not just because it makes economic sense but because it’s the right thing to do. This government has committed to rising to this challenge and meeting the expectations of people across the UK, many of whom are feeling like they have been left behind.
We want to unite the country and help people look forward to the future with optimism. We need to bring communities together by supporting the things that matter to them and create places where people want to live, work and visit. My Department and our sectors have a crucial role to play here - supporting and investing in grassroots sport, libraries, theatres, youth clubs, and local events. We must provide varied, enriching opportunities for young people at the local level and outside of school to help them make the right start in life, contribute to their community and to the future economy.
Supporting communities across the country to level up opportunities for all is an important part of the new Government’s agenda. And my Department is pulling out all the stops in its quest to create better places to live - not just in relation to physical infrastructure like our £5 billion gigabit-capable broadband investment and 5G mobile coverage push, but also through the sport, art, creative industries and culture offer that are just as essential to transform communities.
As part of this work, we have announced the £250 million Cultural Investment Fund - the Government’s biggest ever single investment in cultural infrastructure, local museums and neighbourhood libraries that will benefit communities across the country.
From a safer and more secure internet, to the latest developments in artificial intelligence, from global sporting events like Euro 2020, the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to nationwide festivals of creativity, the next few years will see our sectors help unleash Britain’s potential.
The 2020s are certainly off to an auspicious start, not just for my Department, but for all of the United Kingdom.
Baroness Morgan of Cotes, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport