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