Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has come under fire for ignorantly suggesting that struggling musicians and other artists working within the culture industry should consider retraining in a new career, claiming that new jobs in a different industry would solve issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Tory MP’s heartless comments come off the back of a new study which revealed that a third of musicians could be forced to leave the industry they love due to financial losses.
During an appearance on the ITV News, Sunak was asked about his thoughts on how creatives working in the arts can cope during this period in which their industry has been left to drown. “I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis,” the chancellor unsympathetically stated before adding, “That’s why we’ve put a lot of resource into trying to create new opportunities.”
He then went on to concede that unemployment is “likely to increase” but attempted to maintain that the government were “trying to do everything we can to protect as many jobs as possible.” Sunak said that employment was still available in the creative industries, but added that “everyone is having to find ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality.”
In light of these comments, Anton Newcombe has powerfully defended his colleagues against Sunak and the Tory government, the Brian Jonestown Massacre man exclusively telling Far Out: “How dare the government even say that?”
“His advice to musicians smacks of Thatcherism,” Newcombe said when asked for his thoughts. “I expect nothing less from this lot… jumping over one another to screw one segment of the population to the next. For all of their ‘let’s pull together and fight the good fight’ propaganda they seem to forget the essential part entertainment and especially music played in a great way… ask Vera if we shall gig again, don’t know where, don’t know when,” he added.
“But seriously, who needed the Tory bastards when music exploded in the ’70s and ’80s?” Newcombe validly noted. “Everyone was on the dole, what exactly is he saying? All venues will be Costa Coffee shops and the like because there will be no live music aid? Or is he saying public gatherings are no longer possible in the age of COVID?” he questioned.
“These people can’t even get a COVID tracking app together—it boggles the mind as they are not exactly Scandinavia spitting out arts grants so bands can tour or building world-class concert halls like in mainland Europe,” Newcombe said on the government’s ineptitude.
For many artists struggling to continue their path of creativity, the latest comments arrive as another smack in the face, one that further dampens the spirits and the drive to fight through the crisis. When we asked Newcombe fora word of advice for any artists who feel deflated by the comments that Sunak made, he answered: “Be severe and persevere. I mean I had very little help, naturally, that changed in time with hard work, but you have to have the hard hand for the long haul. This may mean practising in your old man’s shed quietly and playing at pubs quietly. But ignore him. If music is your dream, never surrender. Never,” he emphatically added.
The acclaimed singer questioned what industry could these artists retrain in considering the state of the current economy. Adding, “Retrain for what jobs? Chief stacker at Tescos? Saying no dice with a straight face at the Jobcentre plus? Ever been up Bootle way by Liverpool? Tell them to retrain for jobs, get real, they are talking 4,000,000 fewer jobs after this. You’ll do better learning to play skiffle style like The La’s on the High Street. How dare the government even say that?”