Today Jeremy Corbyn is launching a ‘comprehensive strategy for the arts’ in Edinburgh, but it will have little or nothing to do with Edinburgh or Scotland, where art, culture and education are all devolved matters. It is another sign of how semi-detached and culturally removed Labour is that this could be happening at all. Although much of the festival feels as if it is in Edinburgh but not of Edinburgh, this is a truly shambolic set of announcements by a team desperately trying to resurrect their credibility in their former heartlands.
The headline announcements include “a pledge to introduce an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England in line with the PE pupil premium, to reverse cuts to real terms arts expenditure boosting arts funding back on to a secure financial footing and a commitment that the next Labour Government would introduce a cross-departmental Cabinet Committee on the arts and creative industries tasked with increasing participation in the arts and culture.”
Other plans include:
“Consulting on the design and national roll-out of the arts pupil premium to look to extend this to all secondary schools” [Education is devolved].
“A commitment to launch a wide-ranging consultation on supporting British arts and commit to delivering a comprehensive national plan for the publicly funded arts, culture and heritage sector in government” [whose culture? whose heritage?]
“Working within Labour’s Fiscal Credibility rule, Labour will reverse Tory real terms cuts to arts expenditure and restore grant in aid funding of the Arts Council” [which arts council?]
“Labour in alliance with a broad coalition of organisations will be at the forefront of the campaigning to defend the licence fee as a means of funding an independent BBC and oppose cuts to grant-in-aid funding to our treasured public broadcasting institution” [this doesn’t address the massive issues about the devolution of broadcasting]
“Endorsing proposals made by the creative learning alliance to consider dance and drama as national curriculum subjects within their own right and to consult with educational experts to establish dance and drama as independent subjects within the National Curriculum” [education is devolved].
We are being treated as if we don’t exist. I have a lot of respect for Corbyn and his team but this is a travesty. If you are being charitable they are at least making ineptitude into a new art form.