Monday 28th June 2010
Jeremy Hunt, the new Culture Secretary, began his tenure of high office on a wave of popularity, with many in the arts world falling over themselves to praise his sagacity, his knowledge and his good sense. But the honeymoon didn’t last long. Today, he managed to score a stupid own goal: talking about England’s poor world cup performance, he put his foot into it nicely: he said he was “incredibly encouraged by the example set by the England fans. I mean, not a single arrest for a football-related offence, and the terrible problems that we had in Heysel and Hillsborough in the 1980s seem now to be behind us.” Oh dear, Hillsborough is not the same as Heysel — although they do both begin with the same letter. Hunt has apologised, but the blunder doesn’t bode well. I mean the phrases “subsidising the arts” and “slashing the arts” also begin with the same letter, but they really are not the same thing!