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Glastonbury Festival: ‘Brexit’ generation split visible


Revelers at the Glastonbury music festival here Saturday reflected the shock — and generation divide — that the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

“Both of our kids voted, and their attitude is they should have had two votes, and older people should have had one,” said Geoff Drabble, 56, of Ashtead, who voted to remain. “They live with the consequences longer than we do. They know with a normal election you can fix it in five years — in this case, it’s going to take a generation.”

Polling by YouGov showed a clear age divide in Thursday’s contentious referendum over “Brexit,” a British exit from the EU: 75% of voters ages 18-24 backed “remain.” Among those ages 50-64, 44% favored staying. Those over 65, the figure was 39%.

“Young people voted to remain by a considerable margin but were outvoted,” said Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats party. “They were voting for their future, yet it has been taken from them.”

Greg McNeill-Moss, 22, who recently graduated with a photography degree, was sheltering from the strong afternoon sun under a sign with Lydia Noakes, also 22. Neither voted — they were at the festival on the day of the referendum — but both said they wanted the U.K. to remain in the EU.

McNeill-Moss said he “suddenly” felt reconnected with the rest of the country when he heard the results. “The mood was tense — there’s a very strong anti-‘leave’ theme here,” he said, adding that he thought the young weren’t as concerned with voting as the older generation.

“I haven’t heard one person who was happy with the result,” said Noakes, a fashion design student from Birmingham in central England.

Hettie Jonson, 70, from Lancashire in northwestern England, also didn’t vote because she was at the festival Thursday and didn’t apply in time for a postal or proxy vote.

“I always thought that I was for ‘out,’ but I don’t think I was at the end,” said Jonson, a former nurse who now volunteers in Romania. “I have a lot of friends in a bad situation in other countries, and I think it (leaving the EU) will be bad for them.”

Michael and Emily Eavis, who organize Glastonbury, one of the world’s biggest music festivals about 125 miles west of London in the English countryside, urged the 180,000 ticket-holders to register ahead for a postal or proxy vote since there would be no voting facilities at the festival site.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, was due to appear Sunday at a festival event but canceled to focus on the referendum fallout.

Two Labour Party members of Parliament submitted a vote of no confidence in Corbyn on Friday, saying he failed to give voters a clear message. The motion has no formal effect. Corbyn, who wanted to remain in the 28-nation EU, said he would not resign.

Tony O’Brien, 69, a lecturer in finance and IT from Leeds, northern England, said he was “disappointed and very concerned” with the referendum’s result.

“I think it could have hinged on Corbyn not getting the boat out,” said O’Brien, who is Jonson’s brother-in-law. “The leader seemed to be non-committal. I don’t think Labour delivered the message.”

Corbyn, in a statement Saturday, said: “This country’s been a member for 43 years — half of the people of this country cannot remember ever having not been part of the European Union.”


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About the author

Sydney Chesterfield

Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Humanitarian, mad lover of children and unflinching fighter for equality on all grounds viz. Women's rights, child rights, sine die.

Twitter: @syd_field