Corbyn chants, T-shirts and sculptures: Jeremania hits Glastonbury
Festival awaits appearance by Labour leader, who cancelled post-Brexit speech last year
Glastonbury: Jeremy Corbyn is due to appear on Saturday afternoon, opening for the outspoken hip-hop duo Run the Jewels. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire
The chorus started at 10pm on Thursday in the dark sweaty depths of the Glastonbury silent disco. Just a low rumbling at first, it built into a loud roar with hundreds of festivalgoers singing, at the tops of their voices: “Oh . . . Je-rem-y Cor-byn.”
Glastonbury this year may boast appearances from the biggest acts in the world, Ed Sheeran and Radiohead among them, but judging by the T-shirts, flags and impromptu musical outbursts, the man of the hour is the Labour party’s 68-year-old leader.
Corbyn is due to make an appearance at the festival on Saturday afternoon, opening for the outspoken hip-hop duo Run the Jewels. It is in a stark contrast to last year, when the politician was forced to cancel a Glastonbury speech after the result of the EU referendum and questions about his future as party leader.
Everywhere you walk you hear people break out into Jeremy Corbyn chants. Even bands from abroad have been giving him a shout-out
Heather Cuss, a 33-year-old from south London, said: “There’s always a community atmosphere at Glastonbury, but this year it’s definitely all about Jezza. We’ve seen musicians playing with Corbyn necklaces, and everywhere you walk you hear people break out into Jeremy Corbyn chants. Even bands from abroad have been giving him a shout-out, as they’ve clearly heard everyone going, ‘Jeremy Corbyn, Jeremy Corbyn,’ and they’re joining in.”
In the dance area Shangri-La on Thursday, the New York brass band were leading the crowds in the ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’ chant, and the giant sand sculpture near the Park Stage was of Corbyn riding on the back of a fox and chasing Theresa May through fields of wheat.
The political antics continued into Friday, when a man dressed as May in a full red suit and wig was chased through the crowd at the bandstand by eight foxes, to riotous cheers.
Getting out the young vote was an incredible achievement. Corbyn fever is genuinely everywhere you go
“I’m not Corbyn’s biggest fan, but he’s become this celebrity icon here,” said Lizzie Gibney, another 33-year-old, who said that despite her doubts about Corbyn as a leader, she had been heartened by how he had revitalised the youth vote. “Getting out the young vote was an incredible achievement, and energising that group of people who hadn’t been targeted by politicians before, and that’s what you really feel being here. Corbyn fever is genuinely everywhere you go.”
Olly, a 24-year-old, was one of the many festivalgoers at Worthy Farm, near Pilton in Somerset, sporting a Corbyn T-shirt. “I’m wearing it because Corbyn has put Labour back to where it should have been,” he said. “I’m definitely going to see him talk and will probably do some chanting too.”
Ed Balls was stopped for selfies every five minutes and met with shrieks of delight, to the bemusement of his wife, Yvette Cooper
Indeed, it seems that this year politicians are the new rock stars. The former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, enjoying his first Glastonbury, was stopped for selfies every five minutes as he walked around Shangri-La and was met with shrieks of delight and songs everywhere he went, to the bemusement of his wife, Yvette Cooper, who hasn’t been to Glastonbury for 30 years.
Andrew Myors, who is 30, and Matt Foncette, who is 32, said they had been among those singing the Corbyn when one of the DJs played The White Stripes’ track Seven Nation Army – the backing music for the chant – and the whole field erupted into song.
“Coming here, you realise how much of a phenomenon Corbyn is,” said Myors. “And it isn’t just one type of person who’s here and joining in these songs: he’s united all these people who come to Glastonbury to watch completely different genres of music. And it’s such a different vibe from last year. I definitely don’t think there were many people singing ‘woop Brexit’ chants at Shangri La.”
The mood at Glastonbury was that, while the world outside the festival walls might be crumbling, the festival’s spirit of community and hedonism would not be tainted
With the recent terror attacks and political uncertainty after the UK general election, the mood at Glastonbury was one of defiance and that, while the world outside the festival walls might be crumbling, the spirit of community and hedonism would not be tainted.
Sixty-two-year-old Lesley Wright and 54-year-old Shan Shanahan, who have been friends for 15 years and live in the same village in south Wales, were at Glastonbury for the first time, with Wright’s husband, who uses an electric wheelchair. The festival, they said, had always been on their bucket list.
“I’ve been so overwhelmed by the spirit of this festival, it’s definitely something the world needs right now,” said Wright. “All coming together as a community, and speaking as one. It’s all ages, everybody is here, it’s amazing. With everything that’s going on, we should be coming together like this more than ever.
“Coming here with somebody with a disability is a feat in itself, but I will tell you something: the facilities are amazing. We’re just going to go with the flow, just go and see who’s giving the good vibe.”