Tristram Hunt is too cultured for today's anti-elitist Labour Party. But does he have the strength to unite the V&A?

London's Victoria and Albert Museum
London's Victoria and Albert Museum Credit: Peter Kelleher

Although he never featured on anyone’s list of runners and riders and has no direct experience of working in the cultural sector beyond membership of the Heritage Lottery Fund's board, Tristram Hunt’s appointment to the directorship of the Victoria and Albert Museum is a daring and intriguing one that opens up new possibilities for a much-loved institution suffering from complex internal problems and divisions.

Hunt was awarded a doctorate in urban history at Cambridge before he became MP for Stoke on Trent in 2010, and as well as fronting several television series, he has published substantial books on the culture of the Victorian era.

His privileged background, private education and sophisticated intellectual bent has prevented him from finding a comfortable niche in today’s anti-elitist Labour Party, and his heretical views on cultural and educational issues have further handicapped his...


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