James Blunt hits back at 'classist gimp' politician Chris Bryant for criticising his privileged upbringing
Musician James Blunt has hit back at British politician Chris Bryant for criticising his public school background, saying the 'prejudiced wazzock' encouraged the 'politics of jealousy'.
James Blunt, the singer, has issued a robust response to an MP who criticised his privileged background, saying his "populist, envy-based, vote-hunting" ideas were making the country worse.
Blunt told Chris Bryant, the shadow culture minister, he was teaching the "politics of jealousy", after the MP spoke out to condemn a lack of diversity in the arts.
Mr Bryant told the Guardian one of his priorities if he became a minister would be to encourage fairer funding, encouraging organisations to hire from a wider variety of backgrounds rather than just "arts graduates from Cambridge".
To help people at the bottom of the tree join those near the top, give them a ladder, not a bow and arrow. @ChrisBryantMP— James Blunt (@JamesBlunt) January 20, 2015
"I am delighted that Eddie Redmayne won [a Golden Globe for best actor], but we can't just have a culture dominated by Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk," he said.
Blunt, who was educated at Harrow, served in the Army and is known for his no-nonsense response to critics on Twitter, has now issued a public reply to the MP, saying he had to work as hard as anyone in the music industry to combat accusations he was "too posh".
Mr Bryant said he would not be apologising for his original comments, saying of Blunt: "He's wrong."
The politician, who was educated at Cheltenham College and Mansfield College, Oxford, has now written an open letter of his own, saying: "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."
James Blunt's letter in full:
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.
In the army, again, people thought it was a mad idea. None of them knew anyone in the business either.
And when I left the army, going against everyone’s advice, EVERYONE I met in the British music industry told me there was no way it would work for me because I was too posh. One record company even asked if I could speak in a different accent. (I told them I could try Russian).
Every step of the way, my background has been AGAINST me succeeding in the music business. And when I have managed to break through, I was STILL scoffed at for being too posh for the industry.
And then you come along, looking for votes, telling working class people that posh people like me don’t deserve it, and that we must redress the balance. But it is your populist, envy-based, vote-hunting ideas which make our country crap, far more than me and my s--t songs, and my plummy accent.
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
Chris Bryant's letter in full:
Stop being so blooming precious. I’m not knocking your success. I even contributed to it by buying one of your albums. I’m not knocking Eddie Redmayne, either. He was the best Richard II I have ever seen.
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.
You see the thing is I want everyone to take part in the arts. I don’t want any no-go areas for young people from less privileged backgrounds. And I’m convinced that we won’t be Great Britain if we waste great British talent in the arts. You seem to think talent will always out. My fear is that someone like Stanley Baker, the son of a disabled miner in the Rhondda, who rose to be one of Britain’s greatest film actors (Zulu), would have found it even harder to make it today.
That’s why we need more diversity at every level in the arts – in education, in training, on-screen, on stage and backstage – and we need to break down all the barriers to taking part so that every talent gets a chance.