New Labour has been meticulous and exhaustive in testing its ideas among my colleagues in the artistic world, and has shown a healthy awareness that audiences and communities, supported by a humane and undivisive education system, are the lodestar that should guide any cultural policy. This is scarcely surprising. It was the Labour Party that planned the Festival of Britain, founded the Open University, brought the talents of Jennie Lee and Lord Goodman into the leadership of arts provision and, despite the frequent tiffs between Harold Wilson and the media, presided over a golden age of British broadcasting in the Sixties and mid-Seventies.
It was a sympathetic Labour administration that allowed the Sadler's Wells Opera to grow into English National Opera and hundreds of thousands of opera-goers each year have reason to be thankful to a party that seems to believe that the greatest artistic creations are for everyone, regardless of their means or origins.
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