Wales politics

James Blunt arts "envy" claim denied by MP Chris Bryant

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Media captionChris Bryant says he does not want to "pull anyone down" for their success

A Labour MP has defended his call to support artists from poorer backgrounds after singer James Blunt accused him of teaching "the politics of envy".

Shadow Arts Minister Chris Bryant said "every talent should have a chance" regardless of background.

Blunt attacked the Rhondda MP for "envy-based, vote-hunting ideas" in an interview with a newspaper.

Mr Bryant had said culture should not be "dominated by Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk".

He named the Golden Globe-winning actor and the chart-topping singer as examples of artists he saw as coming from privileged backgrounds in an interview with The Guardian.

'Too posh'

In response, Blunt - a former soldier who served in Kosovo - wrote a reply to the newspaper saying no-one at his boarding school or the army encouraged his musical ambitions.

"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," the singer wrote.

Image caption James Blunt said he had to overcome lots of prejudice to make it in the music industry

Blunt accused Mr Bryant of wanting to "hobble" his success to "level the playing field", saying the American record company which signed him did not care about his background.

The MP replied by saying that while Blunt had had to subsidise his own art, it was "blindingly obvious" that it was "far tougher" for aspiring artists from poor families.

Later, writing in The Independent, Mr Bryant said "the arts are the jewel in the crown of British industry; they can't be as exclusive as the crown jewels".

Blunt responded again on Tuesday via Twitter, saying: "To help people at the bottom of the tree join those near the top, give them a ladder, not a bow and arrow."

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