Cook's stars to push cool Britannia

ROBIN COOK appeared faintly embarrassed by his new role as "Mr Cool Britannia" yesterday as he launched a panel of experts charged with transforming the nation's image abroad.

"Actually, I personally find 'Cool Britannia' a great ice-cream and I recommend it," Mr Cook said, adding that he should not be endorsing an American product made by Ben and Jerry. But despite its public unveiling on the morning of 1 April, the exercise was an entirely serious one, the Foreign Secretary maintained.

The group of 33 men and women from the worlds of fashion, business, sport and the arts would set out to convince the world that the UK had more to offer than old buildings and traditions.

"The picture many have of us is out of date. Some see us as we were 20 years ago, stuck in decline. Some see us as no more than the sum of our past - a heritage theme park of castles and villages.

"All too often our innovativeness and creativity in IT, design, business and a range of other areas is insufficiently widely recognised," he said.

Mr Cook highlighted the Foreign Office's existing use of modern technology, including satellite television, to get its message across.

He had himself set up in his office a display of British products which demonstrated "the creative genius of Britain", he said, adding: "I am proud to show it to my visitors from around the world."

Sir Michael Jay, the ambassador in Paris and a member of the group, had also set up a display of the latest modern designs from Britain in the French embassy.

Among the members will be Michael Levy, the multi-millionaire record producer and tennis partner to Tony Blair, who recently became Lord Levy. He set up Labour's blind trusts. Waheed Ali, head of the Planet 24 television company, makers of The Big Breakfast, will add glamour to the proceedings, along with Zeinab Badawi, the Channel 4 news reader, and Stella McCartney, Chloe fashion designer and daughter of Sir Paul McCartney.

Judy Simpson, the athlete, will be one of the group, as will the Minister without Portfolio, Peter Mandelson, the independent MP Martin Bell, and Sir Colin Marshall, of British Airways.

Ms Badawi said the panel would be particularly appealing to young people. "Ours is a forward-looking country where newcomers are increasingly encouraged to make their mark. Panel 2000 can do much to dispel the outdated belief that this is a rigid society bound by tradition," she said.

Mr Bell said: "This is not a matter of image but of reality, of a country that is reinventing itself and is as confident of its future as it is proud of its past."

This is not the first attempt by New Labour to associate itself with the trendier end of British society.

A Creative Industries Task force chaired by Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has Richard Branson and Lord Puttnam among its members. There is also a Music Forum which has been advised by the Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall. Panel 2000 to forge a new image THE panel is chaired by the Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett. Its members are as follows. Private sector: Waheed Ali (Planet 24), Zeinab Badawi, pictured right (Channel 4), Martin Bell MP, Baroness Chalker (former Tory minister), Dr Frances D'Souza (Article 19), David John (British Oxygen Company), Mark Leonard (Demos), Lord Levy (MG Records), Ruth Mackenzie (Scottish Opera), Sir Colin Marshall (British Airways), Stella McCartney (Chloe), Lord Paul (Caparo), Shahwar Sadeque (consultant IT/Educatio n), Judy Simpson (athlete), Martin Sorrell (WPT), John Sorrell (Newell & Sorrell/Design Council), Harriet Ware-Austin (Amnesty International). Public sector: Baroness Blackstone (Minister for Education and Employment), Lord Clinton-Davis (Department of Trade and Industry), Dr David Drewry (British Council), Mark Fisher MP (Arts Minister), Andrew Fraser (Invest in Britain Bureau), Tom Harris (De partment of Trade and Industry), Roger Liddle (No 10 Policy Unit), Peter Mandelson (Minister without Portfolio), David Quarmby (British Tourist Authority). Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Baroness Symons (Parliamentary Under Secretary), Sir John Kerr (Permanent Under Secretary), Sir Michael Jay (British ambassador in Paris), Claire Fulton, Priya Guha, and Vivien Life.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup