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‘Tory Glastonbury’ fails to quite match the success of its namesake

By | Published on Monday 25 September 2017

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When Norfolk MP George Freeman said last month that he was organising a ‘Tory Glastonbury’ as a counter to the left-wing actual Glastonbury, I’m not sure anyone thought he meant it. But he did. That event actually happened last week. And poor George Freeman was forced to admit that it had not quite matched the scenes we saw in June when tens of thousands of people crowded around the Pyramid Stage to see Jeremy Corbyn speak.

“Why is it just the left who have all the fun in politics”, asked Freeman in a now deleted tweet in July, still angry that Corbyn had done so well at Glastonbury the previous month. “We need a cultural revival of grassroots Conservatism”.

He had, he then told the Financial Times, already raised £25,000 to put on a “cross between Hay-on-Wye and the Latitude festival” the weekend before the Conservative Party conference. Of course, Hay-On-Wye and Latitude, not to mention Glastonbury, all rely on budgets of more than 25 grand and much more than two months of planning. But Freeman was undeterred.

To his credit (this will be the last time those words are said in relation to all this), the event did go ahead. The problem was, two months and £25,000 really isn’t enough time or money to put on an event that might even get close to rivalling tens of thousands of people chanting the Labour Party leader’s name in unison.

The two main issues for Freeman’s event, really, were that not many people turned up and he hadn’t booked many musicians. People and bands are generally considered two key features of a music festival. Proving that point, as things got underway on Thursday, numerous people posted photos comparing the crowds for Corbyn at Glastonbury and the crowds for whatever it was this Tory Glastonbury thing was called. Even the event itself wasn’t able to find much in the way of inspiring imagery.

Speaking to Sky News from the event, according to Political Scrapbook, Freeman admitted that it was “a bit blokey and a bit nerdy”, but he insisted that, nonetheless, it did “demonstrate what political festivalism could and should look like”.

“We have had some music, but we haven’t had a chance to get most of that organised”, he added, weakly.

But this is just the beginning, he said. Next year will definitely be better, echoing initial statements from organisers of the disastrous Fyre Festival earlier this year. Though, to be fair, Freeman didn’t leave anyone stranded on an island.

“Next year’s festival will be at scale”, he said. “We’re planning to have it ticketed and have it as a celebration of entrepreneurship, innovation, of the great businesses around the UK, the small business and entrepreneurs who are creating new opportunities, creating new prosperity”.

Yes, that definitely sounds like something to rival Glastonbury. Lucky Glasto itself is having a year off in 2018 or the Eavises might have really had to start worrying.