Glastonbury 2014: Michael Eavis and Billy Bragg lead Tony Benn tribute

 

Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis led an emotional tribute to late Labour politician Tony Benn as the music festival kicked off on Friday.

Mr Eavis appeared to be on the verge of tears as he addressed the Left Field political forum, where the Labour MP, who died in March aged 88, often appeared as a guest speaker.

"What a fantastic fella. Highly Principled. A conviction politician who didn't do what was popular, he did what was right," an emotional Eavis said. "He was an A-star performer. How can we replace him, I ask you? We miss him so much."

Musician and activist Billy Bragg also praised the former Cabinet minister, describing him as a friend of the festival and leading a sing-along of Jerusalem in Mr Benn's honour with some festival-goers reduced to tears.

The Left Field tower, which is reserved for political debate and has become a landmark feature of the festival, will be renamed in memory of Mr Benn, who had been a central member of the anti-war movement in recent years.

 

An outspoken member of the Labour party, he first entered parliament in November 1950 and served in the cabinet under Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan. He narrowly missed out on election as Labour deputy leader in 1981, and was instrumental in party's 1983 manifesto.

This year's Glastonbury festival will see Metallica, Kasabian and Arcade Fire headlining the world-famous musical extravaganza, with other major acts on the bill including The Black Keys, Massive Attack and Pixies. Kaiser Chiefs kicked off the festival with a short, sharp blast of anthemic rock earlier today.

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