Belfast Telegraph

Blunt has another go at Bryant

James Blunt has fired another shot in his war of words with shadow culture minister Chris Bryant, suggesting the politician should help people from poor backgrounds get into the arts, rather than criticising others.

The pair have been at odds after Bryant suggested in an interview that the chart star was among those from privileged backgrounds who were dominating cultural life.

They both published open letters yesterday with Bryant clarifying his views while Blunt blasted the MP and pointed out that his private education and military career had been a hindrance rather than a help to getting a break in the music business.

Blunt continued today (January 20) with a message on Twitter, aimed at Bryant, which said: "To help people at the bottom of the tree join those near the top, give them a ladder, not a bow and arrow."

The Harrow-educated You're Beautiful singer and former Eton pupil Eddie Redmayne were mentioned by Bryant in an interview in which he called for more diversity.

He said: "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."

But the reference irritated Blunt, who called Bryant a "classist gimp" and a "prejudiced wazzock" in his letter,

"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."

He went on to say: "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 shit songs, and my plummy accent."

Bryant went on to emphasise that he had no issue with the educational elite succeeding, but said he was making the point that he wanted everyone to have a chance.

In a comment piece for the Independent, he said: "I have no beef whatsoever with those from a privileged background doing well for themselves, in the arts or in any other field. Eddie Redmayne was a wonderful Richard II at the Donmar Warehouse and I'm delighted he won the Golden Globe for best actor.

"But the arts are the jewel in the crown of British industry; they can't be as exclusive as the crown jewels. Every talent should have a chance, regardless of its background."

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