2007 - 2021

Glastonbury Blues

So Corbyn spoke at Glastonbury reciting Shelley and it went down a storm and the right has gone into meltdown. Cultural incomprehension met petted-lip.

Fraser Nelson and his writer Ross Clark claimed improbably  “Glastonbury wouldn’t survive a a Corbyn government.” There’s a paywall, but to save you the unlikely subscription the argument is “Blah blah, Cath Kidston wellies, yer da Iron Maiden reference, blah blah blah”.

Nigel Farage led the charge as the English right burst into an online collective death-rattle:

Of course Shelley ‘s Rise Like Lions is more of an anarchist classic than a Marxist one but lets not confuse the right when it’s in full-on foaming-at-the-mouth meltdown mode.

As a million young people Google ‘Marxism’ for the first time the culture wars in Britain spilled out across social media.

This sort of coverage of the Labour leader addressing huge crowds caused the inevitable apoplexy against the BBC and much online gnashing of teeth.

“Glasto” may be staggering along like a remnant of a genuine counter-culture, mired in lifestyleism and awash with more New Age merch than you can shake your Dream-Cather at, but it exists and it is huge and the right don’t own it and that makes them angry.

The London Economic talks of “Astounding footage and photos from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech of hope & unity at #Glastonbury”. while the Brexit Right can barely contain itself …


The Express chipped-in with “LEFT-WING LOVE IN: BBC savaged over Jeremy Corbyn ‘hero-worshipping’ at Glastonbury”, while The Sun (not toxic – remember folks) goes for the double-whammy:

“LEFTIES SICK SNUB – Jeremy Corbyn turns down another offer to join Armed Forces Day in favour of Glastonbury”:


If the Pyramid Stage as a space for an emerging English Left Populism seems odd and misplaced, it’s no stranger and has far wider appeal than Colonel Ruth’s efforts to capture the Armed Services vote, or whatever her latest bizarre bout of narcissism was supposed to be.

There are many problems with Corbyn’s politics.

His and his party’s (several) stances on Trident is incoherent, morally and politically. His attitude to Scottish independence is incompatible with his worldview about liberation and self-determination and democracy. His party infrastructure is at peace but is still groaning with ideological conflict. But there’s still much to learn from a Scottish perspective and much to be positive about.

Labour have successfully married party and movement in the face of relentless media hostility, utilised practical popular radical policies and avoided the pitfalls of relentless personality politics.

They have re-written the rule book that all politics must suffer ‘triangulation’ and that bland centralism is the only way to win politically.



All of these lessons and shifts open up space and possibility for the independence movement, and if Corbyn continues to gain momentum within his own party, the space for negotiation around both independence and WMD may open up. This is far more likely than under a Miliband leadership or a Conservative one collapsing in on its own self-inflicted Brexit Death Cult..

Corbyn’s Labour party are a phenomenon and the Yes movement should understand it and work with it. The potential to find cross-party / no-party unity at Faslane next month for example is obvious. The potential to unite and attack a damaged lame-duck Prime Minister is also clear.

Conservative forces are in retreat. They are about to be driven off the Cliffs of Dover in their own white van, past the Theresa May sculpture and into their own early grave.

If anybody was in any doubt about the potential success of the Brexit negotiations, events of this week will have put-paid to that. As Iain Macwhirter has laid out:

“Holding the security of three million people hostage was about as stupid an opening gambit in negotiations with 27 countries as it is possible to imagine. It particularly antagonised Eastern European nations like Poland, who were supposed to be Britain’s allies in Europe. Theresa May has had to give in and accept that EU citizens can remain in Britain indefinitely. But she has already caused huge resentment and anxiety among those living here. They understandably want more security than the UK Government is prepared to concede. In particular, they want to be under the protection of the European Court of Justice, rather than the UK authorities, because they no longer trust us. Britain is again scoffing at this and saying: we are taking back our laws and our borders and you can jolly well accept the rulings of our courts. But since we’re signalling that, for trading purposes, the UK will remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ, EU citizens are understandably asking why their security should be less worthy of protection than wine or jam.”

Conservative hegemony over Britain is collapsing.

This is an extinction event driven by forces of culture and age and technology. You can watch them splutter and squeal online. You can watch it on your much-hated public broadcaster. I think it’s worth the licence fee.

Comments (20)

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  1. Voline says:

    Shelley’s poem in response to Peterloo is titled “The Masque of Anarchy”.

    A bit on the nose, but makes your point.

    1. Alan says:

      The Peterloo 200 year anniversary is coming up in 2019. It will be interesting to see how various groups treat it, no doubt with derision by the Waterloo crowd, the British victory that it references ironically. The journalist who coined the name was arrested and jailed for sedition. Two hundred years on we are still dealing with consequences of the defeats at Waterloo and Peterloo: Napoleon’s dream died at Waterloo – and so did that of British democrats.

      1. John B Dick says:

        Also the centenery of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_George_Square

        and the year before the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath/

  2. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    What’s all the fuss about, I didn’t know that it was Armed Forces day until I heard it on the news. I personally would find all their ‘faux’ tears if those in Government who sent people into illegal conflicts stood up to the ‘starting plate’ and actually supported properly all our service people, not just the maimed and wounded, instead of leaving them homeless and begging on our streets. Hypocrites says it all.

  3. Willie says:

    There is an alternative and the right wing corporate elite know it.

    That is why the BBC et al maintain the relentless media attack.

  4. J Galt says:

    A Trump is born.

  5. Jozef O Luain says:

    The British Establishment is on-its-way-out. If it manages a comeback, we’ll only have ourselves to blame. Backing Corbyn is, therefore, essential at this this point.

  6. Willy Maley says:

    Didn’t Michael Foot recite the same passage at a huge demo in Glasgow in 1980 and wasn’t he then wrong-footed by the Falklands war? Patriotism and imperialism – blindspots of the British Left.

    1. Corbyn was supposed to follow the Michael Foot path and has already done considerably better in an election that shared many of the media smears he endured. Different people, different times.

      1. J Galt says:

        And now he’s following the Donald Trump path.

        Right wing demagogue or left wing demagogue is much of muchness to those who really run things.

        Corbyn passed the test at Chatham House – he will be a safe pair of hands if the Tories can’t find their own hopey changy demagogue in time.

  7. Robin MacCormick says:

    I seem to be Robin McCormick (not me) – testing in case of hack

  8. Elaine Fraser says:

    I wish I shared your optimism Mike.

    They own the media , they have all the money , they shape-shift constantly. They are utterly ruthless and in my humble opinion many voters are still asleep.

    Sadly, Ive yet to see any change in views despite everything including Brexit. Im afraid I can’t see Glastonbury mood as anything lasting or useful.

    The Financial Times yesterday had an article all about London saying what a nightmare Brexit is for them down there and how the rest of UK voted to come out of EU. No mention of Scotland or the 62% up here – we are invisible even when we agree on something momentous like coming out of Europe. Frankie Boyle had a different take on it in a recent interview saying the Tories thrive on crisis and not to be taken in by the fact that May won’t last. Someone else will emerge.

  9. bringiton says:

    What is it with the ECJ and other European courts that the Tories and May in particular disagree?
    What is it they wish to do that they feel unable to do while accountable to European courts?
    I think we have a pretty good idea and I hope that Corbyn does all he can to expose this and put a stop to it.

  10. Justin Kenrick says:

    The difference between 2014 and now is that the status quo is no longer an option because it no longer exists.

    While they seem to divide us against each other, we need is to circumvent their divide and rule.

    Be for the movement Corbyn represents.

    Be for Scottish independence.

    These are powerful responses to those who try to exploit us.

    Yes we are up against hugely powerful forces. But in the end their power relies entirely on persuading us that the alternative to their power is worse. Their power relies on our fear.

    Vote hope.

    Not as an empty slogan purveyed by those who don’t really see a different world as possible. Vote hope and insist on it well after our votes are counted.

  11. Juteman says:

    I read someplace that the price of a ticket for Glastonbury was £328.
    That’s more than a months Jobseekers Allowance.
    Right on brother.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      Ah, the old straw man fallacy, Juteman. All these people driving Jaguars and collecting social security, going for holidays in Spain and keeping coal in the bath ……

      It is misanthropy like yours, sadly taken up by many others, which enables the establishment to impose austerity upon the majority of us. It is such misanthropy which leads to things like Grenfell Tower, Bradford City football ground, etc. Of course you and many others are as horrified by the deaths in these cases as the rest of us, but there is a chain of causality.

      Does the cost of the tickets for Glastonbury negate the points which Mr Corbyn was making?

      Robert Tressell wrote insightfully about this more than 100 years ago in “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”.

      1. Juteman says:

        Reply to the comments below, they seem to have got my meaning.

  12. Pogliaghi says:

    Yeah well, as obligatory as it is to knock the alt-right, as habitual users of cynical arguments, many of their points are not wrong, and in this case Farage isn’t. How many weeks’ minimum wage salary does a “Glasto” ticket cost at this point? Looks to me like a field containing quite a few painfully shy Tories.

    This is not a dig at Corbyn, it’s a dig at the lack of realism regarding what a sickly child the English Left is behind the facade generated by an ebullient social media echo chamber. The Glasto demographic’s natural cultural and political home is Blairism or Callmedave Conservatism. A grim right-centrism papered over with progressive gift wrap which the UK system will return to after the stitch-up of Brexit.

    In decades we may find ourselves looking back on Corbynism as an accidental PR sideshow doing damage limitation for the Union while the UK descended to new lows of inequality, xenophobia, isolation and backwardness by European standards.

  13. William Davidson says:

    I can’t wait for the next issue of “Private Eye.” Could there be a situation more ripe for satire than the sight of upper middle class, public school educated, Comrade Corbyn addressing the assembled middle class masses at Glastenbury?

    1. Brilliant, just brilliant

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