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What the Home Office could learn from Glastonbury

Glastonbury Festival. Tabatha Fireman/Redferns/Getty

Glastonbury Festival has always been suffused with a hippyish, left-wing spirit, says Ed West on Substack. The location of the first Pyramid Stage in 1971 was chosen “via the method of dowsing”. The festival’s founder, Michael Eavis, was a member of the radical Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and invited his “hero” Jeremy Corbyn to address crowds in 2017. Glastonbury used to allow “New Age Travellers” in for free, but when this resulted in violence the policy ended in 1992. And as the festival attracted more and more freeloaders – fence-jumpers numbered an estimated 100,000 in 2000 – security got progressively tighter. Despite the event’s anti-border, pro-refugee ethos, the size of this year’s fence was like “something from the old days of the Iron Curtain”.

Ironically, Glastonbury has become a textbook example of a “high-functioning conservative state”. Exclusivity, in the form of effective borders and a high ticket price, means that only a certain type of middle-class person can attend – and when you have a mass of similar people with similar values, the result is the kind of safe, homogenous, “high-trust society” that conservatives dream of. That’s why the political posturing of many Glastonbury attendees is so funny: they enjoy, in miniature, the kind of society they say they oppose. All conservatives want is for people entering Britain to be treated “with the same scrutiny as people entering a four-day festival organised by a farmer”. If an ageing hippy can organise an effective border, “why can’t the Home Office?”