Conservative MP launches 'Tory Glastonbury' after Jeremy Corbyn's success on the Pyramid Stage

George Freeman MP asked 'why is it the left who have all the fun in politics?'

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Saturday 05 August 2017 11:07 BST
Jeremy Corbyn at Glastonbury: Labour leader gives rousing speech before Run The Jewels set

A Conservative MP has revealed he is organising a 'Tory Glastonbury' following the boost given to Jeremy Corbyn at the music festival this year.

George Freeman wants to establish the event for party activists and their families as way to bolster the Conservatives' dwindling grassroots support.

He told the Financial Times he had already raised £25,000 for an idea which he said had "struck a chord" with those he asked for help.

Labour leader Mr Corbyn was given a huge reception from thousands of revellers at Glastonbury chanting "ooooh, Jeremy Corbyn" to the tune of the White Stripes hit 'Seven Nation Army'.

But the centrist Norfolk MP Mr Freeman said: "Why is it the left who have all the fun in politics?"

His plan for a "Conservative Ideas Festival", a one-day event to be held in September, would be less grand and is unlikely to attract titans of rock like The Foo Fighters and Radiohead.

Instead, Mr Freeman who said he envisions the Conservative Ideas Festival as a "cross between Hay-on-Wye and the Latitude festival".

A project team of more than 20 people, including 10 MPs, is working on Mr Freeman's event, which will be invitation-only with between 150 and 200 attendees, some of whom will camp.

It will take place at a rural venue, with the location kept secret so the festival is not disrupted by the pro-Corbyn group Momentum, or other political opponents.

Mr Freeman said he hoped it would become an annual fixture, adding that this year’s festival would be like a “first rave, you’ll remember who you brought”.

The party’s membership has fallen to somewhere below 150,000 — less than one-third that of Labour’s and not far ahead of the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats.

Jeremy Corbyn's first Glastonbury in 60 seconds

The Conservatives has also fallen behind Labour in opinion polls, while Mrs May’s personal ratings are below those of Mr Corbyn, who was once seen as unelectable.

Mr Freeman believes the event could help kickstart interest in Tory activism, describing it as a one-day "friends and family event" that will be "relaxed" and unlike the "increasingly corporate, expensive, exclusive [political party] conferences" — which he says are no longer a forum for "grassroots renewal".

The Conservatives will hold their annual party conference in Manchester at the start of October, charging companies £32,500 for a 6m by 6m exhibition stand.

One sympathetic Conservative MP told the FT the idea was "very trendy" but would need "a lot of expensive booze" for him to attend.

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