"It is in broad agreement with that view - that political policy on culture is peripheral at best - that politics operates. You can hunt hard to find politicians, those not directly in charge of cultural portfolios, speaking out on the arts. When Tony Blair spoke on the subject at Tate Modern in 2007, it was the only time he had addressed it at length. It is the same with the Tories: when George Osborne spoke about the arts at Tate Modern recently, it was an exceptional occurrence. And yet I've heard Gordon Brown talk passionately about literature to small audiences at book festivals; Jack Straw often attends concerts at the Royal Festival Hall; I've seen Ed Miliband enthuse about plays at the Royal Court. It's not that politicians as a breed are philistine; some have deep cultural hinterlands. They're just not very eager to own up to it."