Very good news that a local West Midlands MP, Karen Bradley MP (Staffordshire Moorlands), has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. She’s based in the north of the West Midlands, just north-east of Stoke-on-Trent. Here’s my quick 60-minute ‘instant analysis’, for what it’s worth…

Bradley grew up seeing Mrs Thatcher win election after election, but she came of age circa 1992 as the nation entered the John Major years. She graduated in Maths from Imperial College London, and became a senior manager and tax advisor at KPMG and an economics advisor to the Conservative Research Department. She also freelanced for a while.

It thus seems likely she will quickly grasp the economics of the mainstream media industries. Her parliamentary contributions suggest that she doesn’t currently have such a grasp. Her training may even let her grasp the more arcane and unique aspects of the economics of the media and cultural industries as we go into Brexit, and with a fresh eye too.

Having been a freelancer, if only for a time, she may get more of a hearing from creative industries freelancers than otherwise. Freelancing is a booming area, especially in terms of the provision of online services to the USA — so she can’t afford to make fumbles which damage the income of self-employed back-bedroom creatives who sell online. The Brexiteers mustn’t be allowed to loose sight of that emerging business sector, re: taxes and VAT and data regulations etc, as they chew over larger trade deals. She might do well to read the book Why Are Artists Poor?, as well as recent reports on high levels of poverty among some types of freelancer.

Her economics background should also be handy for grasping the complex economics of football and other sports. She has Stoke City F.C. on her doorstep in North Staffordshire, along with the sports-mad city of Stoke. Stoke F.C. is funded by the Stoke-based media-sports hybrid firm bet365. It’ll be important that UK/EU data regulations align in favour of such hybrid creative industries firms, in a way that doesn’t scare such firms out of the UK.

She apparently likes crime thriller novels. Possibly that’s a result of having worked as a junior under May at the Home Office, doing good work on some fairly harrowing crime topics. Apparently she also served as a government Whip for a time, which again may have provoked interest in investigatory procedures. But that’s just my guess.

The Staffordshire Moorlands is very rural, though it has full employment due to the presence of very successful large firms such as Alton Towers and JCB. Stoke-on-Trent is very nearby, a city which is still home to a significant and increasingly profitable chunk of the world’s ceramics industry. Stoke is also bidding to be City of Culture 2021, and has a serious claim as its grassroots arts and creative industries genuinely blossom.

There’s thus also a tourism angle to North Staffordshire, likely to be boosted as the lower pound draws more overseas tourists to the UK. As Brexit draws near she may well be talking a lot with the tourism and ‘soft power’ folks, as well as with the trade teams.

Manchester, and its growing mainstream media production hub, is relatively near her constituency, which is set to build a great deal of new housing in the next five years — some of which may well attract media workers from Manchester. There’s also a significant military signals expertise near her at the expanding MoD Stafford (two Royal Signals regiments, I think?). She might develop a connection there, if she doesn’t already have one, to better understand issues of media bandwidth and spectrum access, and the digital nuts-and-bolts of modern communications.

I imagine that rural media provision and rural arts touring may be on her radar, given the nature of her constituency. Perhaps also fairer regional distribution of arts funds away from London and the South East — especially in favour of the West Midlands, where it has long been sorely needed.

‘Big companies’ private sponsorship of the arts may be on her agenda, on which she could make an excellent start by charming some serious long-term arts sponsorship out of the owners of JCB. JCB might also be charmed into employing a lot of creatives (from land-art to stained-glass) for their planned world-class golf-course in North Staffordshire.

She will now have added weight when joining calls for more and faster rural broadband, though I guess she may be blocked in terms of making proposals on Internet content regulation. Because the powerful Ed Vaizey MP, although appointed to the Privy Council (liaising between the Government and the Queen), has also kept his role overseeing the Digital Economy. (Update: Matt Hancock MP has now replaced Ed Vaizey on Digital Economy. Although other reports have him on Arts? Maybe he’s now on both?)

It’s a little worrying that she currently seems to be very soft on Brexit, judging by her statement on the result — despite the overwhelming Leave vote in her Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. As a junior member of the government she probably can’t afford to be seen to be falling out of line with more powerful ministers as they steam hard toward Brexit.