New UK culture secretary named

John Whittingdale is expected to focus more on the media than on the arts

John Whittingdale is the new secretary of state at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). He was appointed on 11 May by the Conservative prime minister David Cameron, following the UK general election. Whittingdale, an MP since 1992, represents Maldon and East Chelmsford, in Essex. Since going into politics he says the greatest influence on him has been Margaret Thatcher, who was prime minister from 1979 to 1990.

Whittingdale, whose main political interests concern the media, will now be involved in negotiations to determine the future of the BBC and its licence fee system. He is likely to play less of a role in culture and sport. While his website says he enjoys television, film and music, he does not appear to have a particular interest in the visual arts or museums.

Whittingdale was twice shadow DCMS secretary of state, in 2002-03 and 2004-05. Following the Conservative victory in the 2005 general election he was elected chairman of the House of Commons select committee for culture, media and sport.

Sajid Javid, the DCMS secretary of state from April 2014 until the election, has now been promoted to head the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Ed Vaizey, who was the Conservative minister responsible for culture from 2010, has been re-elected and could return to serve under Whittingdale, although a new face is much more likely. Cameron is expected make an appointment later this week.