Is DCMS set for the chop?
Here's a curious one. In an article for today's Standard (link later), Harriet Harman raises fears that Jeremy Hunt's Department for Culture, Media and Sport is set to be axed after the Olympics.
Citing “well-sourced rumours in Westminster and the arts world”, the shadow culture secretary says David Cameron is poised to shut it down once the Games are over.
The suggestion is apparently that arts functions will be hived off to the Arts Council, media put in Vince Cable's Business Department and sport split between local councils and the Department of Health - making it more like the department of public health the Tories used to trumpet. That certainly fits with the Hunt-to-replace-Lansley rumours which flew around Westminster when the Health Secretary was at his lowest ebb over the NHS reforms.
The Standard understands that the idea has been floated in some Government circles but is not likely to happen. For one thing, it won't save as much money as might seem possible on paper. Secondly - and most critically - it would remove a seat around the Cabinet table when David Cameron carries out his first major reshuffle.
A Number 10 source described Harman's suggestions as "nonsense" and insisted there were "no such plans".
Other insiders had great fun rebutting the claims. "If Harriet Harman believes every rumour she hears in Westminster and the arts world - two of the most rumour-filled places around - then she really is in trouble," said one.
"Not exactly authoritative for an opposition spokesperson" said another, in a thinly-veiled reference to the former equality minister's "Harperson" tag.
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