Politics: Albarn bemoans party's champagne luvvies

Cool Britannia relationship strained as 'allies' round on Labour
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DAMON Albarn, lead singer of the Britpop band Blur, yesterday lambasted Tony Blair and the so-called Labour luvvies who have flocked to Downing Street champagne receptions since the election.

Mr Albarn went to the Commons to lead a protest against government plans to abolish student grants and introduce tuition fees.

But, in a scathing attack on the Prime Minister's relationship with "Cool Britannia", he said: "I think that the sort of display when Labour won the election and everyone turning up at Number 10 was pretty disgusting. It was vulgar. I am not surprised that most people want to stay well clear of Labour and any of its ideas."

Saying it was only because he felt so strongly about the issue that he had become involved in politics, he added: "I get sick to death with the way Labour treated musicians and artists coming up to the election and I really, really wouldn't have got involved with anything to do with politics. This is such a basic right that we have had for years and years and I couldn't sit back and watch it happen."

Challenging the Government, he said: "They make such an issue of being a young government and yet they are taking a fundamental right of being young and being allowed to be young away."

The singer joined hundreds of people from universities, unions and the world of politics who turned up at Westminster to lobby their MPs about the abolition of student grants.

Joining Mr Albarn on the platform was the Labour peer Lord Glenamara, who said he had always believed in the principle of free education for all - something he felt was becoming a reality. But then "out of the blue without any mandate from the party or the electorate, this government goes off its rocker and introduces tuition fees - a great roadblock across the open road from the primary school to the university.

"I am ashamed of the Labour Party for introducing this kind of measure. It is a betrayal of everything the Labour Party has stood for and I will fight it all the way."

Mr Albarn, who was invited to take part in the rally by the left-wing Labour MP Ken Livingstone, said: "It will make for a lot of very unhappy people and I don't think that is good for the culture in general."