Glastonbury Festival still tries to keep in touch with its "radical, countercultural origins," apparently doing so with a "dark, urgent 21st Century spontaneity," according to a blurb about the June festival doing the rounds online.
So how do peace, love, and the memory of Tony Benn's radical tub-thumping on the Left Field stage square with the fact that it has also become one of the top places for MPs to blag their way into with free tickets worth thousands of pounds?
The latest Register of MP's Interests, issued this month, shows that three Tories and one Labour MP got free tickets to Glastonbury. They seem more like the sort of narcs who would be more comfortable discussing outlawing something fun in a Westminster members' bar than wishing the Dalai Lama happy birthday in front of the Pyramid stage. Anyway, here they are:
The BBC gave two Glastonbury tickets to James Heappey, the newly elected Tory MP for Wells.
It's not clear why the BBC wanted him to go, although Auntie could use a few Tory friends as the ruling party threaten to slash away at the BBC's funding. Money was apparently no issue to send Heappey to Glastonbury, as £450 [$700] was spent on his tickets. Glastonbury is in Heappey's constituency, so I guess it made sense for him to take the short trip, but he doesn't seem like the kind of free spirit you'd run into at 5AM ambling round the healing fields boshed on eccies.
Heappey describes himself as "A former Army officer with operational experience in Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan." After Major Heappey left the army he became an aide to former Defence Secretary Liam Fox. Heappey is a strong supporter of replacing the aging Trident nuclear weapons. It wasn't so long ago that Glasto backed the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
The Performing Rights Society (PRS), which tries to make sure composers get money for their songs, funded the other three MPs' trips to the festival. PRS shelled out for luxury stays at around £1,000 [$1,500] each, presumably in a fenced off compound with special teepees and other bells and whistles.
One pair of tickets went to David Warburton, the Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome, which is also local to Glastonbury.
He's on the center right of the above picture, enjoying the "general jollity had by all" at the Somerton May Fair, which frankly looks way more fun than Glastonbury, assuming you're into bell ringing and hats.
Warburton was selected to run for the Somerton and Frome seat after the previous local party chairman stepped down over David Cameron's support for gay marriage. So I guess Glastonbury was a different crowd to his local party meetings.
Liverpool Labour MP Luciana Berger also bagged a couple of freebie tickets. Maybe it's no coincidence that shortly after her trip to Glasto, courtesy of PRS, she was asking questions about how to protect artists' salaries in the digital age. Fair question, but perhaps she could have asked before getting a hand out.
Another Glastonbury package went to Nigel Adams, Conservative MP for Selby, North Yorkshire.
Glasto's eco-hippy, one world vibe clearly rubbed off on Adams, as he recently announced he was "delighted at new Government powers to veto wind farms and halt the spread of turbines across the countryside". Far out, man.
This article previously stated that James Heappey is MP for Axminster. He is in fact MP for Wells. This has been amended.
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