Barely was the ink dry on my last blog suggesting it was only a matter of time before the light-hearted banter about public schools dominating the Oscar nominations and suchlike turned nasty, when Chris Bryant MP stepped into the ring!
In an act of staggering hypocrisy, Mr Bryant, the Shadow Culture Secretary, dusted off some 1970s Labour ideals about private education and suggested in the Guardian that independent schools give pupils an unfair advantage in the creative arts.
He cited the successes of old Etonian Eddie Redmayne and Old Harrovian Benedict Cumberbatch, nominated for Oscars, and made the mistake of suggesting that Old Harrovian James Blunt got a leg-up in the music industry because of his schooling.
Bryant 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”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Blunt has hit back in a scathing open letter to the minister which is currently going viral on the internet.
Why hypocrisy? Because like his colleague The Honourable Tristram Hunt (Old Boy of University College School and Trinity College, Cambridge), the Shadow Education Secretary, he is very much of that very same ‘ilk’ that he so disparagingly mentions. Bryant was educated at a leading independent school – Cheltenham College – and went on to Mansfield College, Oxford, to read English. Should we be told if Mr Bryant received a leg-up into politics because of his elite education? God forbid we should suggest that!
Never mind the hypocrisy of questioning where the likes of Glenda Jackson and Albert Finney went to school, who supposedly succeeded fairly because of the so-called ‘meritocracy’.
Both Glenda and Albert came up through the ranks of the grammar schools – Glenda at West Kirby Grammar School and Albert at Salford Grammar School, the same grammar school system abolished by Labour because they felt it gave an unfair advantage to too few and were too ‘selective’.
As James Blunt so eloquently puts it – Chris Bryant – “you classist gimp”!