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Friday, May 14, 2010

More from the UK government: broadband speculation

The Ministers serving under Vince Cable have been named, both rural Tories, Mark Prisk from Cornwall (though representing Stansted airport as Cornwall is largely LibDem) and John Hayes from Lincoln. Prisk was Shadow Minister for Cornwall as well as BIS, and Hayes is a former IT executive who was Shadow Minister for higher education. They understand broadband.
As BT has just announced that VDSL is to be extended to two-thirds of the UK in the next 2 years, the Labour panic over a fixed-line tax will have abated. Targeted aid to specific regions will be controversial in the next 2 years, however - public spending is set to be cut, though as Ministers have just taken a 5% pay cut rather than the 15% in Spain, its not armageddon yet.
It will be interesting to see the breakdown of responsibilities between BIS and the new COMS Department [Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport], run by rising star Jeremy Hunt (recently tipped for Home Secretary but keeping his existing portfolio). Hunt used to make the running on broadband policy so may be the digital economy spokesman too.
He proposes to pay for 'final third' high-speed broadband by using the unnecessary boost for BBC in its digital TV transition - unnecessary because almost everyone is buying digital equipment already and it won't be finally switched off until 2012 (Wales was the latest region to switch with virtually no problems).
Also expect a rapid rise for new MP Mary McLeod, replacing one of the execrable Keen family - she's from the Highlands (as you would expect from a McLeod), and given the lack of really able Scots and women in the Tories, she may get rapid promotion (despite the marginal constituency she represents).

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