Chumbawamba Soak Deputy Prime Minister At Brit Awards

Anarchist bandmember dumps bucket of icy water on Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Let no one say that the anarchists of Chumbawamba are ones to miss a prime

opportunity.

At Monday night's Brit awards (the major U.K. music awards event),

Chumbawamba member Danbert Nobacon struck a blow on behalf of striking dock

workers in Liverpool when he dumped a bucket of ice water on Deputy Prime

Minister John Prescott, who was watching the ceremony with his wife.

Prescott had been enjoying several live numbers by Fleetwood Mac at the

time of the watery attack, according to Reprise Records president Howie

Klein, who was seated just four feet from the Deputy PM.

"[Nobacon] attacked [Prescott] with a bucket of ice water, screaming,

'That's for the Liverpool dockers!' " Klein said late Monday night. "[Sire

Records Group president] Seymour Stein thrust himself between the already

drenched Prescott and his enraged assailant, who then fled through the crowd

and escaped. Stein then convinced Prescott to stay by saying, 'If you

leave now, they will have won.' "

Tension between Chumbawamba and government officials was rumored to have

been running high since London's Times newspaper reported that Prime

Minister Tony Blair was boycotting the awards because of Chumba's

appearance there. "Amnesia," the band's follow-up to their international

smash single, "Tubthumping," is a track expressing dissatisfaction with

Blair's Labor Party.

After the awards, Prescott's office issued a statement calling the attack "cowardly."

"It now appears that it was a publicity stunt designed to draw attention

to the group's act," the statement read. "[Prescott] thinks it utterly

contemptible that his wife and other womenfolk should have been subjected

to such cowardly, terrifying behaviour simply because they were

accompanying a public figure at an event designed to support the British

music industry."

The strike by dock workers in Liverpool dates back to 1995, when dockers

were fired for refusing to work overtime. When hundreds of other dock

workers refused to cross the original strikers' picket line, they, too, were

fired. The action has since garnered support from labor groups across the

globe.

Monday's episode was not the first instance of dissension during the Brit

Awards. In 1996, Pulp member Jarvis Cocker was arrested for disrupting a

Michael Jackson performance at the ceremony, after he mounted the stage as

Jackson was in the process of being lowered onto it from above. Cocker was

later cleared of the charge. [Tues., Feb. 10, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]