By Jonathan Easton
UK prime minister Boris Johnson has appointed Nadine Dorries as the country’s new culture secretary.
The appointment is a controversial one, with Dorries regularly criticising the BBC as biased in its presentation of political news.
The MP for Mid Bedfordshire since 2005, Dorries was first handed the role of minister of state for mental health, suicide prevention and patient safety in 2019, and will replace Oliver Dowden as secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport. Dowden meanwhile assumes the role of co-chairman of the Conservative party and minister without portfolio.
Dorries has been a vocal opponent of the BBC on Twitter, referring in 2018 to the public service broadcaster as “a biased leftwing organisation which is seriously failing in its political representation, from the top down.”
The MP in 2014 also referred to the licence fee – which has long been a target of Johnson – as “a tax on the ownership of a television” and “a completely outdated concept.”
Responding to the appointment, BBC director general Tim Davie told the RTS Cambridge Convention: “I wouldn’t get too distracted by it; it’s all about sitting down with the ministers and the teams and really getting into it, I’m not distracted by it. I think we have got a strong case for investment in the BBC.”
In her new role, Dorries will oversee the appointment of a new Ofcom chair, negotiations with the BBC over the licence fee and play a role in the appointments of senior figures.
The appointment of the staunch Johnson supporters has raised eyebrows within the party, with The Guardian citing a Tory MP who called it a “colossal mistake.”
A vocal opponent of abortion and gay marriage, Dorries was suspended by the Conservative party in 2012 after she appeared on ITV reality series I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here without informing local officials.
The MP has also garnered controversy for her advocacy of abstinence in sex education, while she also argued that the burka worn by Muslim women has no place in the UK.
Away from politics, Dorries is a novelist and has written three books based in her home town of Liverpool. They however have been poorly received, with a review from The Daily Telegraph calling her first book “the worst novel I’ve read in 10 years.”