Cool Britannia begins to go cold on 'bogus' Blair

Has Cool Britannia turned its back on Blair? A leading style guru has dismissed Labour's attempts to schmooze with the glitterati, while one of Britain's leading theatrical figures has again attacked Labour for not supporting the arts. Fran Abrams and David Lister report on dissent among those whom Blair would like to call his own.

In a bizarre twist of events, the head of a top fashion house gave a lecture to a right-wing think-tank last night to complain that the Prime Minister was trying too hard to be trendy.

Wayne Hemingway, chairman of Red or Dead, told the Social Market Foundation that attempts to "rebrand" Britain as the epicentre of coolness were just "sad."

"By simply inviting a few (mostly naff) pop stars and comedians to drinkies at Number Ten, the very people Blair is trying to impress will be turned off," he said. "It brings to mind those sad pictures of Harold Wilson with the Beatles and it certainly didn't enamour Harold Wilson to British youth."

Showing "corny repeated pictures of raving at the Ministry of Sound" to denote coolness was the 1990s equivalent of "god-awful" 1970s postcards of King's Road punks, he added. Most of Labour's young MPs were less youthful than his grandmother, and she died three years ago.

"Forward-thinking can live side-by-side with heritage. Let the parties of retired middle Americans with their sad anoraks and check slacks soak up our heritage while their grandchildren discover a more youthful Britain," he suggested.

Mr Hemingway believes there is a widespread backlash against the Labour government in the creative industries. Posing for photocalls is all very well, but nothing is being offered in return, he told The Independent.

"At the moment we are seeing absolutely tons of publicity saying 'Aren't I cool and trendy, there's no other government as cool and trendy in the world.' They have got to start proving it. It's very early days for Labour and we want them to succeed, but they've got to start proving there is some substance apart from drinkies at Number Ten."

Mr Hemingway's assault on new Labour's street cred is the latest in a string of attacks from the world of fashion, design and pop and the theatre.

First, Stephen Bayley resigned as creative director of the Millennium Dome project and took the Government to task for market-testing its ideas by focus groups.

Then last Sunday Alan McGee, the founder of Creation Records and a pounds 50,000 donor to Labour before the election, told the Observer that Tony Blair was "all surface".

Ten days ago Sir Peter Hall, the theatre director, used an awards ceremony attended by Chris Smith, Secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, to bitterly attack the Government's Arts Council funding cut. Yesterday, Sir Peter accused the Government of "dumbing down Britain" by minimising arts teaching in primary schools. He made his remarks as he launched the theatrical world's own education initiative at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in the West End of London.

"The other thing the Government has done is take music, art and drama off the priority list in primary schools, which I think is awful. This awful thing will lead to the dumbing down of the nation. So we shan't need any art galleries, theatres or opera houses, which of course would be a great benefit from a cost-savings point of view," he told an audience of actors and supporters.

Twelve leading directors and actors are giving their services free to offer talks and masterclasses to drama students and secondary school pupils hoping to enter the profession.

Afterwards Sir Peter said Labour's arts policy filled him with "utter dismay". A friendly peer had asked him "not to rock the boat", he disclosed. "But I said 'Where is the boat? I don't see a boat labelled Labour arts policy'."

It was important young people should have no illusions about life in the theatre, he said, adding: "Being in the theatre isn't about glamour, easy options and easy money - it's about hard work, crucial discipline and often no money at all."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'