James Blunt has attacked Labour shadow minister Chris Bryant after the MP criticised his posh upbringing.
James Blunt / Chris Bryant.
Privately educated "You're Beautiful" warbler James Blunt has become embroiled in a political row with Labour MP Chris Bryant after the politician said the arts world should not be dominated by privileged individuals.
The shadow culture minister said the arts world was too influenced by individuals such as "Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk". The comments were made in an interview with The Guardian published this weekend in which he also called for a "meritocratic system" where anyone can get involved in the arts, not just those from wealthy backgrounds.
Bryant added: "Sometimes it is just saying to arts organisations: What are you actually doing to extend your reach here, or is everyone just going to be an arts graduate from Cambridge?"
But Blunt, who attended Harrow School, didn't take kindly to this. He has now responded with a calm and measured response, which can be read in full at The Guardian.
Dear Chris Bryant MP,
You classist gimp. I happened to go to a boarding school. No one helped me at boarding school to get into the music business. I bought my first guitar with money I saved from holiday jobs (sandwich packing!). I was taught the only four chords I know by a friend. No one at school had ANY knowledge or contacts in the music business, and I was expected to become a soldier or a lawyer or perhaps a stockbroker. So alien was it, that people laughed at the idea of me going into the music business, and certainly no one was of any use.
This goes on for quite a while.
And he finishes with a flourish:
I got signed in America, where they don't give a stuff about, or even understand what you mean by me and "my ilk", you prejudiced wazzock, and I worked my arse off. What you teach is the politics of jealousy. 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". Perhaps what you've failed to realise is that the only head-start my school gave me in the music business, where the VAST majority of people are NOT from boarding school, is to tell me that I should aim high. Perhaps it protected me from your kind of narrow-minded, self-defeating, lead-us-to-a-dead-end, remove-the-'G'-from-'GB' thinking, which is to look at others' success and say, "it's not fair."
James Cucking Funt
Bryant later replied, even admitting to buying one of Blunt's albums.
If you'd read the whole of my interview, you'd have seen that I make the point that the people who subsidise the arts the most are artists themselves. Of course that includes you. But it is a statement of the blindingly obvious that that is far tougher if you come from a poor family where you have to hand over your holiday earnings to help pay the family bills.
I'm delighted you've done well for yourself. 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.
Where will it end?
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Jim Waterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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