Update: The BritPop Conspiracy

In episode Cheap Sunglasses Alan and I discussed the idea that British pop music of the ’90s was a conspiracy by the New Labour government of the day. The more you read, the deeper down the rabbit hole you go.

After a rough ride for The Empire in the 70s and 80s, a new wave of patriotism hit The Island under the moniker Cool Britannia (a play on the song Rule, Britannia! sung as far back as 1740).

The Spice Girls on stages replete with Union Jack flags and outfits is often cited as the prime example. But it’s alleged by some that the government of the day infiltrated the industry to distract The Kids (of the) Day (and their parents) from Real World Problems.


Alan pointed to this article in The Guardian in which My Bloody Valentine frontman Kevin Shields alleges MI5 was involved.

In the early years of Tony Blair’s premiership, Britpop luminaries such as Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn were vocal supporters of the Labour government, and visited 10 Downing Street. Shields said he would only have attended “on condition we could play a song”.

Alan alleges Noel Gallagher told him he did cocaine in the bathroom at 10 Downing. Not with the PM, of course. Unfortunately, Shields undermines his own Tin Foil Hatted credibility further down the article.

I was terrible in my 30s. I did some silly, crazy things. That’s when I really went for it in every respect. Taking drugs recreationally – lots of them. So it’s all very hazy and jumbled up. I can remember the beginning and the last few gigs with Primal Scream but everything else is interchangeable. I once took down the name of every single member of staff on an aeroplane because I was so fucking drunk. I found this illegible piece of paper in my pocket the next day and couldn’t work out what it was. I’d blacked out. But now I’m a more convivial drinker, I don’t get really drunk.

Longtime listener (first time caller) Alex responds:

Your comment on the MI-5 Britpop “conspiracy” story made me howl. My general theory of conspiracy is this: conspiracy theorists generally give the conspirators credit for being a hell of a lot better organized, a hell of a lot better funded, and a hell of a lot smarter than they really are.

As someone who has worked in and around government for the last 16 years, I can tell you that that is all DOUBLY true of conspiracy theories involving governments. No two government agencies can even agree on what to have for lunch at a meeting (trust me, I have LIVED this, and it is just painful).

Conspiring to cover up the existence of aliens, like in X-Files? Not bloody likely.

Love the podcast. Keep up the good work.


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