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PA's PA 15th May

PA's PA 15th May

Welcome to this week’s bumper edition of the PA’s PA in which we provide early thoughts on the implications for publishing of the new Conservative Government, some insight into the new Ministerial team and consider how the issue of Europe may impact us (attached also in PDF format).   

CONSERVATIVE MANIFESTO

While it is worth a closer look now that Cameron has the wherewithal to implement it in full,  the Conservative manifesto is a product of the pre-election uncertainty – suitably strategically vague and drafted in the expectation of the party finding itself having to negotiate a coalition agreement or operate as a minority administration. 
 
Things to look out for: 

Research
  • £6.9 billion capital investment committed to the UK’s research infrastructure up to 2021. 
  • Commitment to maintain the UK universities’ reputation for world-class research and academic excellence.

  • Through the Nurse Review of research councils, the Government will seek to ensure that the UK continues to support world-leading science, and invests public money in the best possible way. 

  • Encourage the development of online education as a tool for students, whether studying independently or in our universities.

Libraries
  •  Help public libraries to support local communities by providing free wi-fi

  • Assist them in embracing the digital age by working with them to ensure remote access to e-books, without charge and with appropriate compensation for authors that enhances the Public Lending Right scheme
Creative Industries
  • Continue policy of providing tax relief and add children’s television to list of sectors to benefit

  • Protect IP by continuing to require ISPs to block sites

Education 
  • A continued focus on the creation of free schools and academies

  • The cap to be removed on undergraduate numbers for university student recruitment

  • School funding and teacher recruitment pressures (manifesto vague on how both of these were to be tackled)

MINISTERS

It is more through the personalities than the policies that we can potentially gain most insight into whether the incoming Conservative Government will be a ‘good thing’ or not for publishing.  It is worth noting that while in the last parliament we are pleased to have an IP adviser to the Prime Minister in the form of Mike Weatherley MP, given the known positions of the key ministers in this government the need for such a position is drastically reduced.   

DCMS

John Whittingdale MP – New Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: John has an excellent track record of supporting the creative industries both as Chairman for the past ten years of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and for the All Party Group on Intellectual Property.  He has also chaired the All Party Writers Group.  With Europe and the Digital Single Market likely to dominate the legislative agenda, John is an avowed Euro Sceptic and so will be a strong opponent of any proposals from Brussels which will damage the UK creative industries.  While a major focus of John’s will be the BBC’s Charter Renewal, we do understand that IP will also be a priority. 
 
Ed Vaizey – returning Minister of State for the Creative Industries and Digital Economy (jointly with BIS): The return of Ed also provides for much welcome continuity in DCMS.  Ed is another strong advocate in government for the creative industries and has led negotiations with search engines over their role in preventing copyright infringement.  We expect his interest in pushing Google to address this to continue.   Ed will also retain responsibilities for library policy and so his views on remote elending and PLR remain important.   

BIS

Sajid Javid – New Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills: As with John, in Sajid we have an incoming Secretary of State who is already briefed, supportive and understanding of the important economic contribution made by the UK’s creative industries.  In his previous role as Culture Secretary he co-Chaired the Creative Industries Council and made a point of attending a variety of cultural events during his tenure.  He will need further briefing to fully understand the wider contribution publishing makes, particularly in regards to science and academic research, but there is no reason to assume he will be anything but supportive. 
 
Jo Johnson – new Minister of State for Universities and Science: The younger brother of Boris is a rising star within the parliamentary Conservative Party and had a key role in drafting the general election manifesto.  With no obvious background in this area, the hope is that he will be receptive to business-led solutions and open evidence-based policy making.  He will not be fully versed in the detail of the debate around open access and so will require early briefing on this key issue.
 
Baroness Neville-Rolfe – returning Minister for Intellectual Property (jointly with DCMS): The continuation of Lucy Neville-Rolfe in this post is very positive, particularly given (as noted below) the continued pressure to reform the European Copyright Framework from the Commission and other Member States.  An extremely bright Minister who is also a deft political player, the fact that she is already aware of the debate and knows the personalities involved means that the European pro-reformers will not be able to slip anything past her.  The fact that the IP Minister is for the first time a joint DCMS brief is perhaps in indication of Mr Whittingdale’s assertion of interest on the issue. 
 
Francis Maude – new Minister of State for Trade and Investment (jointly with FCO): An unknown quantity in this role, but what is known is that Francis Maude is a political heavy hitter and having an MP (as opposed to a Peer) in this role hopefully indicates a desire to give greater political focus to the work of UKTI.    

DfE

Nicky Morgan – returning Secretary of State for Education: The Education Secretary is remaining in post which will come as a relief to many in the teaching and education community as she is seen as a calming figure following the controversy of her predecessor’s tenure.  While she left the issue of text books to her deputy Nick Gibb (of whom there is still no word), there has been nothing to suggest she shares his rather negative view of UK education publishing. 
 
Nick Gibb – returning Minister of State for School Reform: Nick caused much frustration amongst education publishers when, at the PA / BESA Education Conference in November 2014, he was highly critical of the quality of textbooks being produced in the UK.  However, on a positive note, Nick is a passionate supporter of textbooks and work is already underway to demonstrate to him the quality of those produced by UK publishers. 
 
The full list of the new Government can be found here. 

EUROPE

Europe has the ability to dominate both our own micro political agenda as well as the wider macro one. 
 
For publishing directly, we are facing potential significant reform to the copyright framework in pursuit of a ‘digital single market’.  This could encompass reforms to the exceptions for libraries and education uses, new exceptions for text and data mining and elending, all exceptions being made mandatory and harmonised, as well as new restrictions on how contracts and licensing operate across borders.   As such, this agenda is of relevance to all aspects of publishing.
 
In ordinary times, faced with these challenges from Europe, a Conservative government would be a welcome sight with the expectation that they would stand up for UK businesses overseas.  The experience of recent years and months has pointed to this not exactly being the case and feeds in to the wider macro political environment. 
 
With the Conservative’s having a majority, there will certainly be a referendum in 2017 on whether the UK remains within the European Union.  Prior to this referendum, Cameron will be pressing hard to reform our relationship in the hope / expectation that such a reformed relationship will deliver a yes vote in the referendum.  The uncertainty as to how, and what form, these negotiations will take, coupled with a certain uneasiness following the paper Number 10 sent to Commission President Juncker in January, mean there is a danger that maintaining a strong line on copyright becomes a secondary concern; surrendered in order to achieve what Cameron would see as the greater prize.      However, as mentioned above, we have the best personalities in place to counter such a move and importantly, in John Whittingdale, someone who is not only savvy to the views of some of the advisers in Number 10 but will work to ensure these views do not hold sway.   

IN OTHER NEWS… 
Labour leadership election

With the shock exit of Chuka Umunna from the list of declared candidates, the field to become the next Labour leader has been reduced to four: Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, Shadow Health Minister Liz Kendall and Shadow International Development Secretary Mary Creagh.  With Burnham and Cooper clearly being the front runners, in a race rapidly becoming defined more by those who are not running, it remains to be seen whether any last minute candidates throw their hat into the ring – Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt is still apparently taking soundings.  Candidates must secure nominations from 34 colleagues - 15% of the party's MPs - by 15 June to make it on to ballot papers, which will be sent to members in August ahead of the leader's election a month later.  

Liberal Democrat leadership election

Two clear names have emerged in the race to became the next leader of the Liberal Democrats – former party president Tim Farron and former Health Minister Norman Lamb.  Nominations close on 3 June. Ballot papers will be sent out on 24 June and must be returned by 15 July. The winner will be declared on 16 July. 

Education

There was standing room only at Pearson’s post-election policy breakfast with speakers Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA,  John McDermott, FT columnist, Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at the Policy Exchange, Steve Besley, Head of UK Education Policy at Pearson and Laura McInerney, former Teach First teacher and now editor of Schools Week and a Guardian columnist.  The group identified the key issues facing the new Conservative government as the lack of pupil places, especially coupled with the declining supply of teachers; reconciliation of spending cuts with education’s need to deliver; a lack of skills training for young people; and assessment/accountability.  Overall no major government papers or new vision are expected

Taylor felt Nicky Morgan might show a tougher side than strategists have seen so far as she seeks to develop an agenda in face of a lightweight and deeply incoherent Conservative manifesto, and Michael Gove’s swerve round the problem of rising pupil numbers coinciding with a fall in teacher supply.  As McInerney put it there are many five-year-olds, but not as many 18-25s, and teaching is viewed as a high-workload, high-stakes career where the top job can be precarious (unattractive).  Taylor suspected that HE’s £9K fee cap will be removed after a tendentious campaign from the Russell Group, though thought ambitious plans for Early Years will be underfunded.  Besley wondered whether the money was there to support the planned increase of 3 mil. new apprenticeships, thinking it impossible to run economic recovery on the ‘ragbag’ of funding schemes that currently supports skills training.  Simons pointed out that compared with other sectors, mental health and social services for example, school funding has been well-protected; McInerney agreed, though she wondered if this would continue given the lack of public mo Simons and Besley both viewed accountability as a future challenge.

European update 

Commissioner Oettinger has posted a blog ahead of the Cannes Film Festival where he tries to provide some reassurance to the film industry that Commission plans for the digital single market will not decimate their businesses and harm cultural diversity.  In it, he goes even further than last weeks white paper stating that We do not want to change the principle of territoriality of rights or to impose pan-European licences a major about turnaround from what was being mooted a few months ago; Portability of already purchased content remains a focus, however, as does a desire to harmonise copyright exceptions across Europe in order ;foster access to knowledge and support education and research Even here, though, a shift in position can be seen with talk now being of harmonising exceptions as opposed to reforming or broadening them.

This week we have: 

Held our Annual Conference and AGM where discussions were had around the challenges facing the publishing industry in communications, recruitment, infringement and politics; met with creative industry partners within the Creative Coalition Campaign; had a great time at The Bookseller Industry Awards (congratulations to all our members who were shortlisted and won awards on the night!); and discussed upcoming activity and joint issues with the Music Publishers Association.

Next week we will:

will be Meeting the Vice President of the European Commission with responsibility for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip; making contact with the new and continuing Ministers; discussing upcoming parliamentary activity with some of our Read On Get On partners; meeting with the British Council; attending a roundtable at BIS on the Digital Single Market; meeting with Times Educational Supplement; attending the Man Booker Prize; attending the Federation of European Publishers Summer Meeting in Vienna.