It doesn’t really matter where your musical heroes are from, but I think we all feel a residual sense of pride when we discover an artist or band that we love grew up in the same area we did. I’m old enough to remember the mod revival of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the Ska movement that drew so heavily on the music played by West Indian immigrants and their children.
As many of you will know. I’ve always been into music. I was raised in Kidderminster in the West Midlands and I represent a Black Country constituency. The Specials in Coventry and the Beat from Birmingham provided the soundtrack to my youth and they are part of a musical legacy that includes Led Zeppelin, Slade, the Moody Blues, Black Sabbath and many more too numerous to list.
Every part of the UK has a rich musical heritage to draw on and I sometimes wonder if we make the most of it. That’s one reason I was excited to be appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Music and Sport last week by Jeremy Corbyn. As a country we have a cultural clout that far outweighs our size and it now extends far beyond music and pop culture. We excel in every creative industry, from art to theatre, film, architecture, advertising and fashion.
It is absolutely vital that we continue to build on that success because these industries are increasingly important to the UK economy and I believe they will be have an ever bigger role to play when we leave the European Union.
Britain’s world-leading reputation for producing art and music that people love is a calling card that helps opens doors to countries – and markets – around the world. The UK is right to be proud of our industrial base. Not everyone is going to trade in a hammer for a harmonica, and nor should they. But, like every parent, I believe there should be no class ceiling for anyone who wants to excel in the arts.
Jeremy Corbyn has said he wants to ensure every child of primary school age is able to develop their artistic and musical talents to the full. I’m looking forward to working with schools to explore how that can be done. There is no reason we can’t create a production line of talented Brits who can continue to take on the world, and fly the flag for the UK overseas.
(This article was first posted in the Great Barr Observer online - you can read it here).