Festivals are new battleground of UK politics

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A self-styled festival of ideas on one side, a four-day extravaganza featuring rappers and DJs on the other.

After Jeremy Corbyn’s triumphant appearance at Glastonbury, the new frontier of British politics is, it seems, a stage.

The Momentum grassroots organisation – credited with helping Labour reach out to marginal constituencies and the youth vote at the general election – has announced the line-up of its festival, called The World Transformed.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP George Freeman has told the Financial Times he is planning a Conservative Ideas Festival to burnish the image of the Tory party.

“Why is it just the left who have all the fun in politics?” he was quoted as saying.

The festival is a one-day, invitation-only affair that Mr Freeman described as a “friends and family event”.

Many immediately dubbed it the “Conservative Glastonbury”, but the MP sees it more as a “cross between Hay-on-Wye and the Latitude festival”.

Theresa May at a campaign event in June

Image:A Tory MP is also organising a one-day event to try to boost Theresa May’s party

It will be held the weekend before the Conservative Party conference in Manchester at the start of October, the Financial Times reported.

The Momentum-organised festival will take place on the fringes of the Labour Party conference, held in Brighton between 23 and 26 September.

Across nine venues, including a theatre and a nightclub, it will feature DJs Horse Meat Disco, hip-hop artist Soweto Kinch and director Ken Loach.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is also due to make an appearance.

Neither festival is a party event per se, but the Conservatives hope to revive the image of an uncool party and possibly boost Tory activism, while Labour will seek to galvanise its base and maintain the momentum it gained at the last vote.

One of the banners with the Labour leader's name on itVideo:Corbynmania sweeps Glasto after rousing speech

“Events like these complement the main conference, open up politics and help develop a strong campaigning movement to elect a Labour government for the many not the few,” said Mr Corbyn, who appeared at last year’s Momentum festival.

The Labour leader won a rapturous reception at Glastonbury last June, just weeks after he stunned the political world with a surprisingly strong performance at the election.

Appearing on the Somerset festival’s Pyramid Stage, Mr Corbyn was met with loud cheers, with thousands chanting his name to the tune of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.

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Festivals are new battleground of UK politics

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