Search

Labour peer Melvyn Bragg: ‘The Tories have done some terrific things for the arts’

10:00 13 June 2014

Labour peer Lord Melvyn Bragg:

Labour peer Lord Melvyn Bragg: 'Its very odd that philistine governments do terrific things for the arts'. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Strange tides were afoot this week as Labour peer Lord Melvyn Bragg praised ‘philistine’ Tory governments for innovation in the arts and shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman conceded Labour’s legacy was wanting.

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman admitted Labour's legacy on the arts had fallen short during a talk at the Roundhouse in Camden. Picture: PA/Nick AnsellShadow culture secretary Harriet Harman admitted Labour's legacy on the arts had fallen short during a talk at the Roundhouse in Camden. Picture: PA/Nick Ansell

During a rousing defence of the arts as a social leveller, the deputy leader of the Labour Party admitted her former government had not done enough to open up the sector to all.

“We did not embed and entrench the sense that every young person has a right to the arts and this is a universal entitlement, irrespective of a child’s family background or where they live,” she said, talking at the Paul Hamlyn Roundhouse studios in Chalk Farm on Monday.

“We didn’t very publicly make, and win, the case for public subsidy for the arts underpinning this.

“We should have done more to banish the notion that the arts is seen by the public as mostly for the privileged few.”

"Margaret Thatcher’s government put Channel 4 in place. John Major created the Lottery for the arts, which has had a massive effect on culture."

Lord Melvyn Bragg

She said governments must do more to convince the public of the benefits of arts subsidy, as she launched a major consultation on Young People and the Arts which will shape Labour policy.

Also in reflective mood was veteran Hampstead broadcaster Lord Bragg who, when asked by the Radio Times magazine whether the coalition was a particularly philistine government, replied: “Looking back on the last 25 to 30 years, it’s par for the course. It’s very odd that philistine governments do terrific things.

“For instance, Margaret Thatcher’s government put Channel 4 in place.

‘‘John Major created the Lottery for the arts, which has had a massive effect on culture.”

But the peer, who was born into a working class family in Cumbria and joined the BBC as a graduate trainee in 1961, said the arts industry was now being dominated by public school alumni like Dominic West, Damian Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mumford And Sons.

“It’s because there’s respectability in these professions now, and money,” he said.

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 18:17
Geoffrey Lederman leaving Blackfriars Crown Court. Picture: Dieter Perry.

An 85-year-old man who lost control of his car and ploughed into a young mother has been jailed for 18 months and given a lifetime driving ban for causing death by dangerous driving.

Yesterday, 15:30
Cllr Jonathan Simpson, cabinet member for community safety, with some of the seized goods

Fake designer handbags and watches normally worth hundreds of thousands of pounds were among hundreds of items seized in a Christmas crackdown on sales of counterfeit goods in Camden and Barnet.

Yesterday, 17:00
Maria Fidelis School in North Gower Street

A Catholic secondary school is to get a new building to minimise the impact of the High Speed (HS2) rail project on children’s education.

Yesterday, 15:13
Denton Estate resident Eileen Bromwich, 77, and pupils Louise Warman, 13, Kayshen Azevedo, 13, and Adam O'Leary, 13. Picture: Polly Hancock

Teenagers delivered hampers full of food to elderly residents in a gesture of festive generosity to make sure they do not miss out on Christmas treats.

Most read news

Janey Godley was caught up in the major road incident at George Square today, and gave her testimony of what she saw.

The former QPR and Burnley player was reportedly involved in a serious incident involving a lorry in North Yorkshire.

Ringo Starr, Bette Midler, Steven Tyler and Boy George are among the many musicians paying tribute to the Sheffield singer.

People are paying tribute after the rock and blues legend Joe Cocker has passed away.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition