The Conservative Neglect of Culture

Thinkers' Corner at Conservative Home - 22.12.2012

Nobody knows what a cultural policy should aim at, what means it should use, or how it could lead to legislation or other political initiatives. Hence, in Conservative Party thinking, considerations of culture remain on the margins. Worse, as in so many areas of political life, the Conservatives seem to have abandoned this fertile territory to the Left.

Here is an instance of which I have some knowledge: the Arts Council has refused to provide funding to the English Music Festival, an initiative devoted to one of the greatest and least explored legacies of our national culture. The Council objects to the word 'English', and to all that it means by way of settled loyalties, old-fashioned decencies, and the love of our country and its past. For the arts establishment culture should be anti-national, disruptive, part of the 'labour of the negative' that I described in a previous contribution to this blog. My attempts to get conservative politicians, including the Minister for Culture and the Chairman of the House of Commons Cultural Committee, to take up this cause have been greeted with silence. Who cares about Granville Bantock, Arnold Bax or Ivor Gurney, and what have they got to do with GDP, RPI, VAT, or any other collection of  letters that the government cites in the place of a philosophy?

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