The “Cool Britannia” movement, characterised through Brit Pop, was capitalised on by Tony Blair’s Labour Party who wanted to harness its young and cool image. In recent times, comparisons have been made between the former leader and Sir Keir Starmer who will hope to bring fresh life to the party. During that previous period in the Nineties, Mr Blair invited a number of popular artists of the time to bolster their support. On that guest list was Britpop band Oasis but 10 Downing Street had a stern warning for the Gallagher brothers and later even the Prime Minister made a cheeky dig.
Three months after New Labour’s victory at the 1997 election, Tony Blair decided to host a reception to gather key figures from the arts world.
Among those invited were Lenny Henry, Vivienne Westwood, Helen Mirren, Ralph Fiennes and one-half of Oasis.
Only Noel Gallagher was invited – but even that caused quite a stir according to Britpop expert Daniel Rachel.
In his 2019 book ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger: The Rise and Fall of Cool Britannia, Told by Those who Were There’, he explained how events unfolded.
Alan McGee, whose musical label Creation Records had signed Oasis at the time, took a call from Mr Blair’s then-spin doctor Alastair Campbell.
The manager recalled: “[He] went, ‘Is Noel going to behave?’ I went, ‘Yeah, he’s going to wear a Gucci suit.’
“He said, ‘No, is he going to behave?’ Meaning drugs. I went, ‘Oh! No, no, he’ll be fine.’”
Mr Campbell remembered: “Alan [McGee] said he’d make sure Noel didn’t mess about, but it would be different if we’d invited Liam. He said Noel ‘has got his s*** together’.”
On the way to the 10 Downing Street bash, the Oasis star felt his decision to appear could cripple his career – but claimed to have gone because he was “nosy”.
Once inside, he met the Prime Minister who was shocked to see him – Mr Blair said: “I didn’t know Noel was coming.
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“We literally bumped into each other during the course of this evening. We had a very nice chat.”
Noel remembered them conversing over the election night before he noted a subtle dig to his lifestyle made by the then-Labour leader.
He recalled: “I said, ‘It was brilliant. We stayed up till 7am to watch. How did you stay up all night?’ Blair leaned in and said, ‘Probably not by the same means as you did.’
“The only thing that really annoys me about that picture is what I chose to wear. I’ve never owned a suit in my life. Paul Weller was disgusted.”