We Conducted an EU Referendum at Glastonbury’s Stone Circle at 2AM

I took a credible candidate from each side, some ballot papers, and a box to determine if Glastonbury is the left wing paradise we all think it is.

by Oobah Butler
Jun 23 2016, 12:35pm

This article originally appearend on Noisey UK.

A man stood in Hunter wellies, swishing his glass of Pimms to the foot stomps of Billy Bragg’s rousing version of “The Red Flag.” A sunburnt lady heading back from watching the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir to rendezvous with her husband at their £2,000 yurt. A group of vacationing colleagues, fresh from signing WaterAid petitions, wash down their pasta linguine with a Chablis in the VIP lounge. Walking through Glastonbury, I feel confused. Despite its history of—in the words of co-organizer Emily Eavis—“engaging our audience in politics and activism,” the political identity of Glastonbury has become a curious one. It’s a festival that aims to bring all kinds of people together, but whose ticket prices mean it is only for some people. An institution that promotes diversity and openness, but has a base of one hundred thousand loyalists who will literally start a petition if a rapper is asked to headline the Pyramid Stage. So there’s this confusing duality everywhere you look.

Back in February when it was announced that the EU referendum would be held on June 23, it was met with a resounding “Fuck, that’s Glastonbury weekend!” People started speculating about the effect that this 200,000 person black hole in the electorate could have on the referendum. Popular opinion and articles seemed to agree that it could destroy the left—with some even expecting foul play from the Tories—and part of me agreed with that... But the other part just couldn’t stop thinking about Gore-Tex shoes. It couldn’t stop thinking about Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg driving a quadbike through Somerset. It couldn’t stop thinking about £3,000 podpads with champagne on arrival. I became obsessed: how the fuck would Glastonbury Festival’s people vote in the EU referendum? Is it the left wing valhalla we like to think it is? Or just as secretly Tory as the rest of the country? I had to find out.

So, I took a hand full of ballot papers, made a ballot box, and headed into mega Glastonbury country, its heart: The Stone Circle. Employing two different candidates from either side of the debate—Dr. Remain and Brexit Man—we would head to the circle at 2am and present arguments in the kind of fair, truthful and educated tone that has become such a tenet of this entire referendum. In the early hours at Worthy Farm, warming up next to the blaze of a controlled fire, with various chemicals coursing through their veins, people could vote with their heads, not their hearts.

First up, coming straight from the opening gala at The Leftfield stage on his pushbike and arriving on the dot at 1:59 AM came Dr. Remain; clad in a casual white shirt and Regatta rucksack, and with his questioning finger firmly pointed, he was ready to speak to the young people of Britain.

Dr Remain, seen in white shirt on green chair.

An impassioned "remain" campaigner and a member of the red team, he was ready to convince the bleary-eyed people of Glastonbury to stand up and stay. Time to speak to the people.


Matthew, take a sip of this Stella Artois and tell me how it tastes.
[Takes sip] Fantastic.

Does it taste like the continent?
(Takes sip) It tastes wonderful.

That was a Belgian beer, guys.

Exactly. Vote remain!
Yeah! I mean, women’s rights, not fucking up the economy, keeping Europe in peacetime after the war.
Jamie: My family are European.

Yes, and so is beer.


How is life at the top of your ivory tower?
It’s pretty great, being able to look down on all those dirty rascals down there. I enjoy it up here.

I see. Looking down on the proles below you, do they sicken you?
I don’t really like to look down on people.

But you still do. You are doing it right now.
Yeah. It’s more observing than looking down.

But you came from the bottom, now you’re at the top. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but would it be fair to say the bottom disgusts you?
Erm. Well, it’s more that I feel I’m understanding things, participating in things up here.

Do you think that a weaker pound might benefit the people at the top like you if we leave the EU?
Wait, what?

Are the people at the top looking for a Brexit?
Definitely, yeah.

Well, obviously we’re just on different sides of the fence, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.


Do you think that if we detach ourselves from Europe, we may get a little bit too close to America?
There’s no quick answer to that. We’re in danger of detaching ourselves from a major union of nations, which is a worrying thing. Having said that, I think that we can really thrive as an individual nation. That’s the conundrum nobody can decide on. But do you want sovereignty or do you want economic stability? It’s as simple as that, I think.

But if we fully detach from Europe, who knows where we could float. We could collide with the east coast of America.
What? Of course we won’t.

Imagine that, Land’s End crashing into New York. Hundreds of thousands of deaths, on your hands, if you vote for a Brexit.
Tectonic plates don’t move that quickly though, do they?

Well, that’s just your opinion though isn’t it?
I knew this was daft from the start.


You’re a fresh-faced, go-getting businessman - a symbol of tomorrow as it were. How do you feel that new trade agreements if we leave the EU may impact on your business?
I don’t even live in England, I’m not from here, so I couldn’t care less. I’m Irish.

But maybe there could be some sort of impact on you?
If you vote out of the EU, you’re going to lose load of people, you’re going to fuck up the economy, it’s a bad idea.

And losing your trade and business could fuck our economy—it could be what really signals the turning of a tide.
I trade at Glastonbury once a year to make enough money to have a fun weekend and few weeks, nothing else.

And losing that, I agree, could fuck us up. Good point. Remain?

- - -

Not everyone agreed to interviews. Most just casted their vote into the ballot box and went back to their huddles. But things were looking great for Dr. Remain. He popped in a nicotine chewing gum and kissed a baby’s forehead. The votes were surging in, and it was looking good, very good.

The hills were nodding in agreement. You could hear the cries coming from South Thanet. Who could save the faltering Leave campaign? Who could turn the tide? Wait, who is that, flying over the horizon with a bottle of beer in his hand? Is it a bird, is it a plane?

No, it’s Brexit man, vote leave’s best and only living meme.

- - -


You actually look like England. I’m just proud looking at you. Are you in favor of a Brexit?
I’m in favor of a Brexit. Europe is far too corrupted. It’s a great idea in principle but in practice it has never worked, and it never will. So we get the fuck out of there.

Here here!
And I’ve just been traveling around Europe, speaking to a lot of people, and they agree. They’re worried—the illuminati, the "powers that be"—because they know that if England leave the EU, it dies. We’ll see what happens.

True. I just want to eat English fish again, you know? None of this ‘Argentinian cod.’
Good idea... We just need someone in power who’s in the middle, not some crazy right winger or some crazy left winger.

YES! Someone directly down the middle... like Tony Blair!
No, no, no.

You’re exactly right! Tony Blair!
Fuck you, no not him.

Bring Tony back, bring Tony back, and come on, Jacob!
Fuck off!


Do you think that humans act right?
On the whole, no.
Fonzo: Different humans do different things, some right some wrong. You could walk down a street and you have a lovely time. However, turn a corner and it can go very bad. Get on a tube, bit busy like. Next time you go to Euston and it is empty!

Oh god, sorry. I’m gonna have to stop you there—I’ve muddled my words there. What I was meant to say was, what do you think of the human rights act?
100 percent no from me, because it means that people who should be going to prison—like rapists, murderers, paedophiles—have rights when they don’t deserve them, because they’re not acting like every day human beings.

Believe me, Brexit is gonna sort that right out.


You’re young people, you look like one of those remain people.

What do you have against old people? Do you hate old people?

What happened to you in life that makes you hate the elderly so much? Can’t you just call the queen ma’am and vote Brexit like the rest of us?
It’s seriously upset me that the elderly just don’t care about our generation, to be fair. But I work on cruise ships and if I was to vote Brexit—

You’d be able to fish on them too! You’re right.
Are you off your tits?

Vote leave.


Sir, do you think we need to do take back control?
Dude, I'm pissing!

- - -

Brexit man beat his chest and roared to the skies; he knew his work was done. So he headbutted a pork pie and catapulted himself back into the atmosphere. The rest of this was down to the Gods. The vote was over and the counting had begun. Opening the ballot box, the Turnout didn’t look too bad: 73 out of 200,000.

But eventually, we had a winner.


And there we have it. The only exit poll that matters. It’s as the Guardian told you: despite high ticket prices, ten pound burgers, £2,000 yurts and Adele, Glastonbury is still that liberal, left-leaning valhalla we all thought it was. And if this is what the young and intoxicated think at 2 AM in a stone circle, then it’s surely a matter of time before the rest of Britain follows suit.

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