30 July 1997: Tony Blair throws his Cool Britannia party

Tony Blair, fresh from his election victory, decided to showcase the best of Britain and New Labour by throwing his Cool Britannia party on this day in 1997.

Noel Gallagher and Meg Matthews © John Ferguson/Ian Vogler/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Noel Gallagher and girlfriend Meg Matthews arrive for Tony Blair's bash
(Image credit: © John Ferguson/Ian Vogler/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

It was the 1990s. Thatcherism had won in the end, and the Labour policies of the 1970s and 80s were old hat. The economy was up, John Major was out, and politics was groovy again.

Tony Blair was still reeling from his landslide election victory in May 1997 when he, or rather his spin doctor Alastair Campbell, decided to do what was most befitting of the youngest prime minister since 1812: throw a celeb-laden party. This was the era of Britpop, after all.

Britain had found its mojo. Blur and Oasis were fighting it out for the accolade of being the world's coolest band, and the Union Jack had been brought in from the cold by Gerri Halliwell, AKA Ginger Spice, to wrap herself up in. Even British business was getting hip, led by The Body Shop's Anita Roddick, who was most definitely on the guest list.

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The soundtrack for the night was D:Ream's Things can only get better the song that had been played endlessly during New Labour's election campaign, and the lyrics of which Campbell had made sure had been hammered into the minds of the electorate like a Pavlovian response mechanism.

That evening, Tony Blair hit the jackpot when he was snapped chatting happily with Noel Gallagher of Oasis, who later admitted to having snorted cocaine in the toilet. Here was a prime minister that "got" Britain. Perhaps after 18 years of Conservative government, things really had changed.

Only, of course, they hadn't. Six years later and comfortably into his second term, Blair rode roughshod over public opinion in declaring war on Iraq. Meanwhile, his chancellor, Gordon Brown, who in 1997 had promised an end to boom and bust, couldn't avoid the economy sliding into the worst financial crisis in decades.

But never mind all that. The Cool Britannia party, as it became known, was a triumph of spin. So much so, in fact, that David Cameron tried to recapture the magic in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

Gary Barlow was a notable absence from the guest list as he had been naughty with his taxes. But the former Take That singer need not have felt bad. This time around, most of the A-listers decided to stay away.

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

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