A triumphant Jeremy Corbyn delivered a rousing, call-to-arms speech at Glastonbury on Saturday. Addressing the huge crowd – one of the festival’s biggest so far – he tackled issues such as sexism, racism, homophobia and poverty.
He was introduced by Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis. You can read the speech in full below:
“Michael, don’t go! Michael, don’t go! Can you all give it up for Michael Eavis? Michael, I’ve got a gift for you here, it says, ‘Michael, the inspiration that gave space to millions through Glastonbury.’ Thank you Michael Eavis for all that you’ve done.
I want to say thank you to Michael for lending us his farm, for giving his space all those years ago for people to come here, enjoy music, enjoy good company and enjoy inspiring thought. Michael you paved the way for all of us. You brought the spirit of music, you brought the spirit of love, you brought the spirit of ideas and you brought the spirit of great messages and if you can see that far, look on the wall right over there that surrounds this wonderful festival. There’s a message on that wall for President Donald Trump. Do you know what it says? Build bridges not walls.
Do you know Politics is actually about everyday life. It’s about all of us, what we dream, what we want, and what we want for everybody else. What was fascinating about the last seven weeks of election campaigning around Britain was that the commentariat got it wrong. The elites got it wrong. Politics is about the lives of all of us, and the wonderful campaign that I was involved with, that I was so proud to lead, brought people back into politics because they believed there was something on offer for them.
But what was even more inspiring was the number of young people who got involved for the first time. Because they were fed up with being denigrated, fed up with being told they don’t matter. Fed up with being told they never participate, and utterly fed up with being told that their generation was going to pay more to get less in education, in health, in housing, in pensions and everything else.
That they should accept low wages and insecurity, and they should see it as just part of life. Well it didn’t quite work out like that did it? That politics that got out of the box, is not going back in any box. Because we’re there demanding and achieving something very different in our society and in our lives. There’s a number of things, they’re very simple, very basic questions that we should ask ourselves. Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in and only a street to sleep on? Is it right that so many people are frightened of where they live at the moment having seen the horrors of what happened at Grenfell Tower? Is it right that so many people live in such poverty in a society surrounded by such riches? No it obviously is not. And is it right that European nationals living in this country, making their contribution to our society, working in our hospitals, schools and universities don’t know if they’re going to be allowed to remain here? I say, they all most stay and they all must be part of our world and part of our community, because what festivals are about, what this festival is about, is coming together.
This festival was envisaged for music yes, but also for environment and for peace. You heard the message from [historian] EP Thompson earlier on and what a wonderful man he was.
Do you know what? When people across the world think the same, cooperate the same, maybe in different languages, different faiths, peace is possible and must be achieved. And do you know what? Let’s stop the denigration of refugees, people looking for a place of safety in a cruel and dangerous world. They are all human beings just like us here today. They’re looking for a place of safety and looking to make their contribution to the future of all of us, so let’s support them in their hour of need. Not a threat and a danger.
But let’s also look at instability and problems around the world and tackle the causes of war: the greed of natural resources, human rights, the irrational imprisonment of political opponents. Let’s look to build a world of human rights, peace, justice and democracy all over the planet.
This place in Glastonbury is truly wonderful. I remember coming here as a child, being taken up to Glastonbury Tor by my mum and dad and I thought what a magical area this is because there’s something very special about it. It’s a place where people come together and they achieve things. We have a democracy because people lay down their lives so that we might get the right to vote. Because women laid down their lives so that women might get the right to vote at the time of the First World War. That determination of the collective won us all the principle of healthcare as a human right for all of us. Nothing was given from above by the elites and the powerful. It was only ever gained from below by the masses of people demanding something better, demanding their share of the wealth and the cake that is created.
So it is about bringing those ideas together. It is about the unity that we achieve. We achieve inspiration through lots of things. In every child there is a poem, in every child there is a painting, in every child there is music. But as people get a bit older they get embarrassed about it, ‘Ooh, can’t be thinking that sort of thing, can’t be writing poetry.’ No! I want all of our children to be inspired, all of our children to have the right to learn music, write poetry and to paint in the way that they want.
This festival, this wonderful festival and all of its stages and music gives that chance it that opportunity to so many young musicians, that they may achieve and inspire us all. And I’m proud to be here for that. I’m proud to be here to support the peace movement here and the way that message gets across. But I’m also very proud to be here for the environmental causes that go with it.
We cannot go on destroying this planet through global warming, through pollution, through the destruction of habitat, through pollution of our seas and rivers. We have to live on this planet, there is only one planet. Not even Donald Trump believes there is another planet somewhere else. And so let us protect the planet that we’ve got. Use the technology that we have to manage and control the use of our natural resources so that the planet is here in future generations in better condition than it is at the present time.
But it’s also about our creativity. Creativity that brought us the things I’ve spoken about. That creativity together can be a tool for getting a message across, a message that racism is wrong, divisive and evil within our society. Racism in any form divides, weakens and denies us the skills and brilliance of people being discriminated against. In just the same way that sexism does. Be it in lower pay for women, fewer opportunities for women or lower aspirations. We have to challenge sexism in any form within our society. And to challenge homophobia, to challenge all the discrimination that goes on. And to ensure that the society we want to build is one that is inclusive for all.
I want to see a world where there is real opportunity for everybody in our society. That means sharing the wealth out in every part of our country, and looking to global policies that actually share the wealth, not glory in the levels of justice and inequality, where the rich seem to get inexorably richer and the vast majority continually lose out. The desperately poor live on the margins of society which is basically known as the fourth world. Surely we can, as intelligent human beings, do things differently and do things better. And when we’re here today in Glastonbury, we’re doing things differently, we’re doing things better and we’re seeing that inspiration.
There are many people that we learn from in our lives. We learn from our friends, we learn from our parents, we learn from our teachers, we learn from those that have written music or written poetry for us. It’s that same sense of unlocking the potential in all of us that I find so inspiring.
I’m inspired by many poets and many people. I think we should adopt a maxim in life that everyone we meet is unique. Everyone knows something we don’t know, is slightly different to us in some ways. Don’t see them as a threat. Don’t see them as the enemy. See them as a source of knowledge, a source of friendship and a source of inspiration.
If I may, I’d like to quote one of my favourite poets, Percy Byssche Shelley, who wrote in the early 19th century very many poems and travelled extensively around Europe. But the line I like the best is this one: “Rise like lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number, shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you – ye are many, they are few.”
I quote Shelley because he inspired like so many others do. I’m proud to be at Glastonbury because it inspires so many to music festivals all over the country. Let us be together and recognise another world is possible if we come together to understand that. Understand the power we’ve got to achieve that decent, better society where everyone matters and those poverty stricken people are enriched in their lives and the rest of us are made secure by their enrichment.
Thank you very much Glastonbury. Thank you for inviting me here today. Im proud to be here. Thank you very much Glastonbury.”