The singer James Blunt has hit back at Labour MP Chris Bryant, calling him a “classist gimp” and a “prejudiced wazzock” for comments suggesting that Blunt only made it in the music industry because he was from a privileged background. In the strongly worded letter, Blunt reveals how his upbringing actually worked against him in the industry, and how producers requested he adopt a regional accent.
In an interview with The Guardian on diversity within the arts, shadow culture secretary Bryant said that one of his priorities if culture minister after the election would be to encourage diversity and fairer funding in the arts. Although a Labour government would not legislate to make the arts world more diverse, he suggested that it would pile pressure on the BBC and other arts bodies to hire people from a more diverse range of backgrounds.
“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. “Where are the Albert Finneys and the Glenda Jacksons? They came through a meritocratic system. But it wasn’t just that. It was also that the writers were writing stuff for them. So is the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, doing that kind of gritty drama, which reflects [the country] more? We can’t just have Downton programming ad infinitum and think that just because we’ve got some people in the servants’ hall, somehow or other we’ve done our duty by gritty drama.”
Redmayne was schooled at Eton College, whilst Blunt went to Harrow before joining the Army. Blunt, who is well known for living up to his name, promptly hit back, accusing Bryant of the “politics of jealousy”, and said that his “populist, envy-based, vote-hunting” comments were making the country worse.
Here is his 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 shit 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