Newly anointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid, has taken a lot of stick on multiple fronts over the last few weeks, having taken up the post after the resignation of Maria Miller on the 9th April. He has been attacked by influential members of the cultural community for his alleged lack of passion for, or knowledge of, the arts, as well as for being “out of touch” on his refusal to regulate second hand ticket sales. Perhaps he didn’t do himself any favours exposing his less than highbrow cultural tastes when choosing an unremarkable portrait of Margaret Thatcher as the artwork for his Whitehall office and admitting that he was an avid Star Trek fan, though it is arguably a little unfair to expect him to be an art aficionado…he is a politician after all.
Sajid Javid could be an exciting prospect for the Conservative party given his working class background as the son of a bus driver who arrived from Pakistan with only a pound in his pocket. Conservative MP Nick Bowles went as far as to describe Javid as the “archetype of the British dream”; a self-made man who lifted himself out of social immobility and into a high powered career in investment banking. Indeed, his CV is impressive but it is not enough to convince us that he will make a good Culture secretary, only his actions can do that.
Polly Toynbee’s comment piece for the Guardian argued that this attack on Javid’s cultural credentials is perhaps unfair and might be construed by the public as the elitist arts community suggesting that “the mysteries of the arts are not for the uninitiated”. Time will tell on Sajid Javid’s ability to do the job, and just as far as his working class ethnic minority background does not necessarily make him right for the job, his banking career and love of sci-fi does not necessarily mean he is wrong for it. Perhaps we should take Polly Toynbee’s advice and give him the benefit of the doubt, whether he is a “Star Trek loving philistine or not”.
He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.
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