Glastonbury: How politics accompanies the music of the festival

Glastonbury is no stranger to mixing music with politics, and with the general election just days away and protests against the Israel-Hamas war ongoing, this year has been no exception.

Artists from Damon Albarn to Charlotte Church have been vocal about their thoughts on the war on stage - and reflected back at them, a notable number of Palestinian flags are being held aloft by those in the crowds.

Closer to home, while the looming election means planned visits by Labour's Angela Rayner and the Greens' Caroline Lucas were shelved, Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham did give a speech, and installations such as a large black cube representing a ballot box, by the Just Vote campaign, are here to impress on people there is one way to make a difference.

Elsewhere, during Idles set on Friday night, an inflatable life raft with dummy migrants was propelled into the crowd - a stunt the band have reportedly claimed was orchestrated by Banksy, although there is no official word from the anonymous artist on this yet, which they were not aware of until afterwards.

While Glastonbury is about escapism, what's going on in the wider world matters also clearly matters to a lot of people enjoying the festival.

Ahead of their set, Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto told Sky News that as an 18-year-old, voting for the first time, no one explained to her why it mattered so much - and that it is important now to encourage younger people especially.

"Absolutely," she said. "The hard thing about youth is that you don't realise how fast that 20 years goes and you're not 20 anymore. You don't realise you only have however many elections in the next 15, 20 years, what a big difference they make."

She continued: "It's about the money that's being spent for your future… there's so much more going on, so much deeper, that really will affect you."

However, Ditto said younger generations are also helping to inspire change. "I also want to say that they're going to save us all, Gen Z and Gen Alpha."

On Saturday, Labour's Andy Burnham told about 100 people who came to see him speak that Sir Keir Starmer will not "bulldoze" local government if he wins the election.

"I think it will change if Labour get in, it will improve, but it won't stop being very difficult," Mr Burnham told the crowd.

Meanwhile, a timely performance of Things Can Only Get Better, the D:Ream song that became the soundtrack to Tony Blair's 1997 electoral victory and more recently Rishi Sunak's sodden election announcement - got a huge reaction from the crowd on Friday.

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But is there also apathy among some?

Cast your mind back to 2017 and you might recall then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn receiving a rapturous reception on the Pyramid Stage - the crowd echoing with people chanting his name.

For socialist singer Billy Bragg, the mood has not been quite the same this year.

"If you go out there and offer people a vision of a better world, then people respond," he told Sky News. "And I think Corbyn is the proof of that… [Nigel] Farage as well, he promises something to his people. It might not be something I believe in or that I think it's going to work, but you've got to offer something to people other than, you know, steady as she goes, managerialism."

Charlotte Church, who joined Bragg's Radical Round-up on the Left Field Stage, sang "free Palestine" with a crowd of hundreds during her performance.

The singer's appearance at Worthy Farm comes months after she said police had to check on her because her safety and that of her family has been threatened after she took part in a pro-Palestine march in London.

The 38-year-old strongly denied claims of antisemitism at the time and voiced her support for Jewish people.

During his surprise appearance on stage with Bombay Bicycle Club on Friday, Blur's Damon Albarn addressed both the general election and global issues.

"Are you pro Palestine? Do you feel that's an unfair war?" he asked the crowd, before highlighting "the importance of voting next week" and adding: "I don't blame you for being ambivalent about that but it's still really important."

While many praise the artists for supporting causes they believe in, there are also those on social media who have complained about the mix, saying musicians should focus on the music.

But like it or not, politics is very much still a part of the Glastonbury experience.