Racing risks a bad start with new Secretary of State

Racing has a new Minister to look after its affairs in the Government. The appointment of Maria Miller as Secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport took most observers by surprise yesterday.

Miller was seen in her previous post to have taken a long time to come to grips with her brief as Minister for Disabled people, but once mastered, she executed the role with a minimum of fuss and considerable good sense. She maintained a focus on high-level strategic thinking and did not become bogged down in detailed, day-to-day operational matters.

The vastly expanded responsibilities in her new role will prove challenging, and her constituency, Basingstoke, has no particular connection with the sport. Yet racing could well find itself near the top of her in pile, as negotiations over the size of the next levy scheme draw to a conclusion over the next few weeks. If those are unsuccessful it will fall to Miller to make a decision about that.

She arrives at her post as a person with no history of interest in the sport, and so will be a new face to all parties within the industry. That need not be a disadvantage to her, but of course she will rely heavily on the advice of officials who have been working with industry representatives for many years.

There were no cries of disappointment about Jeremy Hunt moving on, with Will Lambe, head of External Affairs at the British Horseracing Authority merely wishing him well on his new appointment. Lambe went on to say of the levy discussions, “As the current legislation stands, if there is no agreement on the levy at the end of October it will be landing on her desk. We’ve made good progress with DCMS in recent years and there is a government commitment to improve racing’s funding mechanism. We naturally hope Mrs Miller will not have to be involved in the determination of the levy and can instead focus on longer term structural issues.”

Lambe is right to be concerned. Racing will hardly endear itself to a new Secretary of State if she has to intervene in a matter that is well within the industry’s own capacity to resolve.

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1 reply
  1. Jim says:

    “Miller was seen in her previous post to have taken a long time to come to grips with her brief as Minister for Disabled people, but once mastered, she executed the role with a minimum of fuss and considerable good sense.”

    I would be interested in the examples of considerable good sense….

    I think anybody who has had a role in the new rules being implemented or due to be implemented in April next year for disabled people should be hanging their heads in shame. 90,000 mobility scooters/cars will be repossessed and people will be stuck at home or dependent on others. Interesting that George Osborne gets booed at the paralympics but surely no surprise when more cuts are due to hit the disabled.

    I am not disabled – thank God – but it is a poor reflection on society when we implement cuts to those in greatest need.

    Maybe we should be introducing free visits to race courses and funding Racing for the Disabled instead…

    Just my opinion

    Jim

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