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Google: Shopping means more to UK plc than culture

Don't call it creative

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If Google is trying to shake off its reputation for a pathological hostility to creative businesses, then at least one senior policy hasn't got the memo. Google's UK policy chief called for Government to give creative industries the bum's rush last week - arguing that Britain's retailers were just as important.

"We've got to question the previous focus of Governments on the creative industries… they're not the only thing we've got," said Google's UK policy chief Sarah Hunter, speaking at the Westminster Digital Forum last week.

Although it's low paid and 87 per cent of creative businesses employ fewer than 10 people, the UK has the largest creative sector relative to GDP in the world. Britain is one of only three net exporters of music in the world, while games, design and advertising helped net around £25bn to the UK balance sheet.

With increasing incomes and more leisure time, that's not surprising - what might be is that half the demand for creative "stuff" came from other businesses.

Hunter went further - we should stop calling creative industries "creative", she argued. Creative is a euphemism for "content", she said. What's 'content' a euphemism for, we wondered.

Her view was closer to Napoleon's view - quoting Adam Smith, he called it "une nation de boutiquiers". Today, sectors such as retail were just as important to the UK if not more so, but the data was never captured, Hunter argued.

Hunter also explained why Google threw the Net Neutrality campaigners under a bus. The issue has been around for five years with no movement, and it wasn't going to happen in this Congress, even with the most favourable composition imaginable. So something had to give.

Hunter has been in the Google job for a year. She was the Government's culture advisor from 2001 to 2005. Aged 20, Hunter she helped Tony Blair's 1994 Labour leadership campaign. Her godfather is family friend and former Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine. ®

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