Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which Jeremy Corbyn was in Brighton for Labour’s annual party conference where he faced a mainly warm reception from the delegates but had to deal with a sceptical media, and the two main parties confirmed their candidates for next year’s London Mayoral election with the announcement today that Conservative Richmond Park MP, Zac Goldsmith, will take on Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting, for the keys to City Hall.
This week’s Labour conference saw a number of firsts for Jeremy Corbyn: his first conference speech as Labour leader, his first time to a Labour Friends of Israel fringe... It also saw his desire of a more collegiate style of leadership and approach to policy making run into trouble almost immediately. Just a day after his shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle announced a review into Labour’s policy on Trident (finessing what is potentially a tricky issue for Labour), Corbyn announced on national television that even if there was a nuclear deterrent, under his premiership he wouldn’t use it. Such ‘straight talking’ earned him an immediate rebuke from his defence secretary who was left wondering what the point of having a review now was. The nicer politics promised by Mr Corbyn then fell apart further with the Shadow International Development Secretary, Diane Abbott, criticising Maria Eagle for criticising Jeremy Corbyn. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg blogs here.
The conference did afford us an early insight into the Shadow Cabinet and the areas on which they will be looking to focus. Of main interest to publishers:
At the National Literacy Trust’s fringe, Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell shied away from setting out any policy detail (it still being too early in her brief) but did confirm one major policy change - that responsibility for schools, under a Corbyn administration, would revert to Local Education Authorities, marking a major shift from comments made by the previous Shadow Education Secretary at last year’s conference, and meaning an end to the government’s free schools programme. In a discussion about the links between literacy and business, she confirmed that reducing the attainment gap was critical and that evidence was vital to policy formulation. Unsurprisingly a number of the government’s policies came in for criticism including the refusal to ring fence funding for early years and post-16 education, and the existence of grammar schools. Richard Mollet used the opportunity to pledge publisher support for the Vision for Literacy’s business pledge and the important role text books play in the classroom.
Speaking at a UK Music Fringe, the new Shadow Culture Secretary, Michael Dugher, reaffirmed his support for the creative industries. He stressed the need for their collective economic contribution to be emphasised and expressed concern over the impact local government cuts will have on arts and culture. Specifically on IP, he referred to the fact that too many artists are not getting paid because of infringement; believing that a red line for Labour must be that artists should always get paid. Slightly frustratingly, given one has only recently reported, Dugher also announced a review of Labour’s cultural policy. Let’s hope it builds on the Woodward Review and doesn’t seek to start from scratch.
Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle speech to conference rather reflected her newness to the brief and saw her keep returning to subject areas in which she could be assured of a warm reception e.g. the Trade Union Bill. Ms Eagle perhaps has one of the trickier briefs in a Corbyn shadow cabinet given the leader’s known antipathy to the business community. She highlighted the skills shortage and gender diversity in science and technology and the damage this is doing to the sector, and criticised the Government’s apprenticeship levy. She did commit Labour to campaigning to keep Britain within a reformed EU, again something which may put her at odds with her leader.
DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET UPDATE
Discussions continue with the officials in the Copyright Unit as to what reform proposals they will be recommending in their communication at the end of the year. Education remains a core concern for publishers and The PA formed part of a FEP delegation this week to DG CNECT where potential solutions were put forward which would see the Commission’s policy objectives achieved whilst not damaging existing working systems in Member States. A similar meeting is being arranged with Commissioner Oettinger’s Cabinet (his political advisers). On text and data mining, the argument still being cited by the likes of Commissioner Ansip is the case for medical research and the benefits this would bring to EU citizens. More joint briefings with ALPSP and STM are being planned.
All Party IP Group
The members of the All Party IP Group visited Brussels this week meeting with UKREP (Tim Figures), Anna Herold (Member of Commissioner Oettinger cabinet (Copyright and DSM)), Maria Martin-Prat (Head of Copyright, DG Connect) and Vice President Andrus Ansip. Across all the meetings much reference was made to the recent changes to the exceptions in the UK with UK law being seen as a good base for reform across the EU. On enforcement, the UK’s follow the money approach was also seen as a good model. It was confirmed that enforcement will be an important part of the DSM package but will come at the end – on the basis that you need to know what you are enforcing. There was also general understanding of the arguments around the ‘value gap’ and clarifying the role of online intermediaries.
This week we have:
Been at Labour conference meeting new members of the Shadow Cabinet and catching up with old contacts; travelled to Brussels to meet with the Copyright Unit on the education exception; met with the other CEO’s of the Read On Get On coalition to discuss next steps for the campaign.
Next week we will be:
In Manchester at the Conservative Party Conference where we will be attending fringe meetings with Nicky Morgan, John Whittingdale and Ed Vaziey; looking forward to the launch of the 2015 Books are my Bag campaign on Thursday 8 th .