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
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower