Media Medium
15 June 2001

TESSA JOWELL

Is this Ms Media?

The incoming DCMS minister, Tessa Jowell, is a clean-living
busy-bee Virgo, but her horoscope suggests she lacks the
star qualities needed to run the 'Ministry of Fun'.

Tessa Jowell's move to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirms her as a bright spark in New Labour's galaxy. The move is a significant change of emphasis for a woman whose career has worked its way through education, employment and health. Chris Smith was widely respected for giving the 'Ministry of Fun' its direction and laying down the game plan for the difficult mix of media's commercial imperatives and public service broadcasting. So what can we expect as Tessa Jowell steps into his shoes?

As a clean-living, busy-bee Virgo (September 17 1947), Tessa has all the practical skills and desire to serve which are associated with this sign, as well as its keen interest in health issues. Never one for the limelight herself, the Virgin is a good administrator and likes to feel useful. She is centred in the world of small, everyday concerns, hard-working and conscientious, forever restless and fussy in her efforts to perfect a myriad of on-going tasks. It's no surprise to an astrologer to hear that this Virgo juggles an intense working week with a busy family life, and in her spare time makes quilts and jam. She says she listens to the radio but doesn't watch much TV. That's fine for Virgo, slightly worrying for a media minister.

She describes herself as having "inherited my mother's steel", but although this reflects an iron Mars in maternal Cancer, its metal is not easily fashioned into a lethal weapon. Her horoscope is too fluid and adaptable to lock into battle, and with lots of Libran influences, she is more of a persuader, with an occasional touch of steely spite, than an Amazon. She will certainly need her Libran diplomacy to keep the peace between diverse media interests such as Murdoch and the BBC.

The move away from education and employment matches her own current urge for change as expansive Jupiter crosses Uranus, a planet that always wants to do something different. Her adaptability and attention to detail make her more than capable of mastering the steep learning curve entailed in taking over a new Ministry, but the big question is, what will be her guiding rationale in this new enterprise? Virgo is strong on efficient provision and practical necessities - typical was Jowell's delivery of 'Surestart', an early-nurture programme for disadvantaged mums and babies - but less secure on the wider aspirations that constitute the intangible entity of 'culture'. Her approach to the arts is likely to be based on their practical and social usefulness, suiting New Labour's agenda. This doesn't take risks and it doesn't further an art-for-its-own sake philosophy. What's more, with the fire in her horoscope subdued, we are unlikely to see flamboyant gestures designed to put Britain on the cultural world stage. The one more elite note in her horoscope is media Mercury with big-picture Neptune, so she may do more for the film industry than it currently dares hope.

The stars show a testing time for Tessa Jowell next year, especially in the spring when the Sun square to Saturn makes it difficult for her to shine. Both her and her Department may be sidelined then, and if so, Tony Blair should put her back where she truly belongs, in Virgo's do-goody realms of employment and health.

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