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Friday, 21 January, 2000, 11:18 GMT
Labour pop guru turns on Blair

Tony Blair: He's a control freak, says Alan McGee

Labour-supporting pop music entrepreneur Alan McGee has likened the party to Big Brother in George Orwell's novel 1984 and accused Tony Blair of being "a control freak".

The millionaire record boss, who donated around 100,000 to Labour and was entertained by the prime minister at Downing Street receptions, faces being expelled from Labour for supporting a rival campaign for mayor of London.

Mr McGee donated about 100,000 to Labour and was entertained by the prime minister at Downing Street receptions. Before and for a while after the 1997 election he was a useful totem for New Labour in its efforts to show itself the party of "cool Britannia".

But now he is bankrolling maverick punk godfather Malcolm McLaren in preference to the man Mr Blair wants to become London mayor, Frank Dobson.

"The party should be able to contain everyone's opinions," Mr McGee told Friday's Sun newspaper. "It doesn't matter whether it's me backing Malcolm or Ken Livingstone speaking out.

"Nobody should be demonised or kicked out for standing up for what they believe."

His spokesman also attacked what the paper said was a Labour smear campaign against the businessman.

A senior Labour Party spokesman declined to respond to Mr McGee's attack on Mr Blair, but insisted: "No one in the Labour Party has smeared Alan McGee. He has been a friend and a supporter of the Labour Party and we hope that he remains so.

"We hope to be able to speak to him soon to clarify the situation."

In the run up to the 1997 election and afterwards, Mr McGee - who discovered the group Oasis - attended a champagne reception with Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher at Downing Street.

He said on Thursday he would be "saddened" if Labour went ahead and threw him out of the party. But under its rules, support for an independent candidate means he would be routinely expelled from his local party.

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