Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Whatever depredations the new Culture Secretary John Whittingdale may wreak on the BBC (egged on by Murdoch, Barclay Brother, DMGT etc etc) you can more or less rely on Chris Bryant to rally round.

Elevated to shadow Whittingdale by Harman (at least for the time being), Bryant's life story is perhaps better known than that of his Tory opposite number - certainly photographically.

He went to Cheltenham College, then on to study English at Mansfield, Oxford, where he was a member of the Conservative Association. He was ordained as a priest in 1987, then left the ministry in 1991 for Labour politics. He fought Wycombe in the 1997 election, but came second. He then emerged as the BBC's Head of European Affairs, presumably spotted by Patricia Hodgson. He was sent to lobby Brussels, and then had a wide brief lobbying in Westminster.

In 1997, the new Labour Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, had prodded the BBC into "formulating its public commitments". John Birt set Chris Bryant to work, and the deathless document, "Beyond 2000" emerged in 1998.  And, lo, Chris Smith smiled up on it, and a licence fee settlement above inflation was bestowed in 2000....

Elsewhere, there are those who thought it was lovely the way the sun caught the auburn notes in Mr Whittingdale's barnet as he progressed to Number 10 yesterday.

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