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“Precious” James Blunt and “classist gimp” Chris Bryant MP ‘debate’ diversity in the arts

By | Published on Tuesday 20 January 2015

James Blunt

James Blunt yesterday extended his popular Twitter jabs at detractors to a full letter length in a response to comments made by shadow culture minister Chris Bryant. The Labour MP recently told the Guardian that it might be a good idea if government supported people from a diverse range of backgrounds to get into the arts.

In his first interview in the job, Bryant said that a “cultural drought” outside London and the south-east, thanks in part to cuts in arts funding, had allowed the sector to be “dominated” by people from wealthy backgrounds, like “Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk”.

In his response, also published by The Guardian, Blunt labelled Bryant a “classist gimp” for singling him out, saying that his background had been no help at all when trying to get into the music business. On the contrary, he complained, he had been told by “EVERYONE” in the British music industry that he was “too posh” to be a pop star, noting that he actually signed the record deal that made him famous in the US.

“What you teach is the politics of jealousy”, he added. “Rather than celebrating success and figuring out how we can all exploit it further as the Americans do, you instead talk about how we can hobble that success and ‘level the playing field'”.

Beginning what is starting to look like a tedious exchange of letters, Bryant then penned his own response, telling Blunt to “stop being so blooming precious”.

“I’m delighted you’ve done well for yourself”, he went on. “But it is really tough forging a career in the arts if you can’t afford the enormous fees for drama school, if you don’t know anybody who can give you a leg up, if your parents can’t subsidise you for a few years whilst you make your name and if you can’t afford to take on an unpaid internship”.

He concluded that “we need to break down all the barriers to taking part so that every talent gets a chance”.

“To help people at the bottom of the tree join those near the top, give them a ladder, not a bow and arrow”, tweeted Blunt this morning, continuing to miss the point.