Nadine Dorries Appointed Culture Minister in Cabinet Reshuffle – But Will She Be Good for the Gambling Sector?

Houses of Parliament

Image Credit: By Adrian Pingstone (talk · contribs) (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Boris Johnson has wielded the axe and chopped down some of his limpest trees in a major cabinet overhaul.

The most high-profile sacking is that of Gavin Williamson, the former education secretary. His handling of schooling throughout the pandemic has been labelled a disaster by many, and the failure to ensure adequate testing and grading of students – as well as a major gaffe recently when he confused Marcus Rashford with Mario Itoje – saw him given the bullet.

Williamson will be replaced by Nadhim Zahawi, an MP with plenty of support given his work as vaccines minister.

Another major revamp saw Dominic Raab put out to pasture as foreign secretary. He was unilaterally slated for not cutting short his holiday in Crete in the midst of the crisis in Afghanistan, with opposition parties and even some Conservative MPs calling him for him to be sacked.

Raab has been handed the token position as deputy prime minister by Boris as a way of saying sorry, with the foreign secretary brief taken on by Liz Truss.

Elsewhere, Michael Gove has been promoted back to the top table and will oversee the housing, communities and local government mandate, while in one of the most eye-catching moves John Whittingdale has been usurped as culture minister by Nadine Dorries.

This is only the second major reshuffle from Johnson since he took charge at Downing Street in July 2019, but could be considered a sign that the Tories are planning for a general election in the medium term – possibly as soon as 2023.

Who is Nadine Dorries?

Nadine Dorries

By Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0, Link

Depending on the culture you consume, you may or may not be familiar with Nadine Dorries already.

A noted author, she courted controversy in 2012 when she appeared on I’m a Celebrity….Get Me Out of Here, which saw her temporarily removed from the Conservative Party after she failed to secure permission first.

She replaces Oliver Dowden as the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport in the UK, and in doing so becomes the tenth incumbent of the role in the past decade – no other ministerial role has had such a remarkable turnover.

The MP for Mid-Bedfordshire since 2005, Dorries is known for being an outspoken figure that doesn’t suffer fools gladly – she once labelled former PM David Cameron and ex chancellor George Osborn as ‘two arrogant posh boys’.

A noted supporter, which is reciprocated, of Boris Johnson, Dorries has often courted controversy in her politics. She once suggested that Conservatives and UKIP should campaign with a joint manifesto, wanted to reduce the timeframe within which women could get an abortion, and suggested that abstinence should be taught as part of sex education to young teenagers. A proud Christian, Dorries campaigned – unsuccessfully – against the same-sex marriage bill passed by her own party.

But it was her stint in the jungle that caused the biggest stir. She was paid £20,000 for her turn on the ITV show, in which she was voted off first by the viewing public. After being suspended from parliament, there were those – including Osborn – who didn’t want her reinstated.

What Will Dorries’ Approach to the Gambling Sector Be?

Casino Dice on Craps Table

At this point, we can only hazard a guess as to how Nadine Dorries will govern the UK gambling industry, alongside her other requirements in the role.

However, according to vote-accumulation site TheyWorkForYou, Dorries has typically voted in favour of pro-gambling measures.

In 2014, she voted against giving local councils more power to regulate and prevent the inclusion of FOBTs in betting shops, while in December 2013 she voted in favour of allowing an increase in stake for certain gambling machines.

Other notable votes including her will not to extend the horse racing betting levy to overseas operators, and she was against making bookmakers have to apply for specific planning permission for their betting shop applications.

So, all things considered, Dorries has been supportive of the gambling sector and the operators within it, and that does bode well for a sector that is anticipating a more strident regulatory framework heading into 2022 and beyond.

It’s also worth noting that John Whittingdale, the Data and Media Minister, is expected to continue in his role overseeing the reform of gambling regulation. He too is fairly sympathetic to the sector according to his past voting patterns.