Festival-goers were largely oblivious to the extraordinary developments taking placeby George Magnus / June 27, 2016 / Leave a comment
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Glastonbury is over for another year. It was one of the muddiest I can remember thanks to torrential rain the previous weekend. It was also one of the strangest, because it started on the day of the referendum—and UK voters decided to trigger one of the most significant economic and geopolitical events since 1945. But how did this affect the spirit of one of the world’s biggest festivals, with an audience the size of a small city? And when Glastonbury kicks off again this time next year, what will the state of our country be?
The short answer to the first question is not much. Glastonbury is a bit of a bubble. You can get the Guardian and Observer here and there but no other newspapers. There are many bars, but no TV. There’s drink, junk and street food a-plenty but only from private stall holders, not from chains. The only advertising is by Oxfam, Greenpeace and Water Aid. After the headline acts finish at around 11-12pm, the majority of festival-goers flock to the parts of the site designed for partying.
This year, some comedians in the Cabaret Tent mentioned the major developments going on outside. Some bands made passing references in their “Hello Glastonbury” routines. Chris Martin of Coldplay paid tribute to a massive audience for putting up not only with mud and rain but also a collapsing country. In the Left Field tent, set up by Labour activists, the referendum and its consequences were the topic du jour. But in general, you could only keep up with the news where the mobile signal was strong enough.
According to the data, 75 per cent of those young people who voted on Thursday were for “Remain.” But that doesn’t mean this cohort was sufficiently engaged. Only 56 per cent of people aged 25-49, and a mere 36 per cent of people aged 18-25 actually cast a vote, compared with levels over 80 per cent for older citizens. It is for others to explain why younger people didn’t feel engaged to vote in greater numbers, if indeed, they ever have. But Glastonbury was largely oblivious to the extraordinary developments taking place while it rocked.
Friday came and…