October 25th 2022

We like to keep a close eye on Sports Ministers at the DCMS, and the Secretaries of State, too.

Since our first dealings with Chris Smith, the DCMS Secretary of State back in the 1990s, we’ve had communications and discussions with most of them.

With the second largest playing database after the FA, we think we are in a pretty good position to judge if they’re any good or not.

Political affiliation means nothing to us. We simply make a judgement on whether or not they actually do anything that tries to get more people active, fit and playing sport.

Chris Smith, the first one we dealt with, was pretty good. He got it. He wanted to make changes, but was the first one we encountered, but certainly not the last, to be held back by the civil service.

But one minister stands head and shoulders above the rest as the most ineffective Sports Minister we’ve encountered – Nigel Huddleston.

Hapless Huddleston was an assistant Government whip before he became Sports Minister in Theresa May’s Government. Remember all those disastrous Brexit votes?

He quickly escaped that and was promoted to Sports Minister under Boris Johnson. He spent his time having zoom meetings (Covid remember?) with just about anyone he thought might causing him trouble and telling them that he would most certainly solve all their problems in a flash.

He didn’t. Straight after the meeting he would down tools, safe in the knowledge that he had injected his charm into a potential troublemaker to ensure that they wouldn’t be causing him any trouble in the future. Injection administered, he sat back and relaxed.

Because he’s not stupid. In order to move up the ministerial ladder, he knew that by neutering his potential problem makers, or those who might cause mischief in his eyes, that would be the easiest route to show his superiors how good he was.

In effect he was the classic career politician. Spending all his time working out how good he could look, rather than actually doing anything worthwhile.

Of all the Sports Ministers we dealt with over 30 years, Hapless was by far the worst. Nice man, yes. But completely ineffectual.

And his career hasn’t quite risen with the speed he might’ve hoped. Because even his superiors can see that, pleasant chap though he years, he doesn’t do much.

He became a proper Government whip under Liz Truss. You’ll remember those chaotic scenes in the Commons the night before Liz Truss resigned, won’t you? Hapless stayed quietly in a corner, out of harms way.

So we now have a new Prime Minister, and what next for Hapless?

Well, we suppose that once all the proper jobs have been given out, and there are a few gaps to fill, any new Prime Minister might cast around, see Hapless, smiling, standing there willingly, knowing he is not going to cause any trouble, not do much but be a pleasant chap to have around, and give him some lowly job just to make up the numbers.

And why not? No harm in that, perhaps. Hapless will trundle merrily on his way, not doing much, but saying nice things to everybody, and looking out for those that might cause him trouble so he can administer his charm injection, just in case.

And we will keep an eye on Hapless as his career progresses across the ranks, and will keep you updated on his progress.

Keep going Hapless!

Back to Blog