Corbyn recites Shelley
25 Jun 2017 “You are many, they are few”
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 all of us here today, 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 see them as a threat and a danger
By Jeremy Corbyn
There’s a message on that wall for President Donald Trump. And do you know what it says? Build bridges, not walls. 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.
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?
And do you know what? 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 we should ask ourselves: Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in and only the 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 are going to be allowed to remain here?
I say, they all must stay, and they all must be part of our world, and be part of our community. Because what festivals, what this festival is about, are about coming together. This festival was envisaged as being for music yes, but also for the environment, and for peace. You heard the message from E. P. 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, in different faiths, in different cultures, 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 all of us here today, 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 see them as 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 for natural resources, the denial of human rights, the 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 to this area as a child being taken up to Glastonbury tour by my mum and dad and thinking what a wonderful place it 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 laid down their lives that we might have the right to vote, because women laid down their lives that women would get the right to vote at the time of the First World War.
That determination of the collective, won us, won us all, the principle of health care as a human right for all of us. Nothing was given from above, 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’s created. So it is about bringing those ideas together, it is about the unity that we achieve and we achieve inspiration though lots of things.
In every child there’s a poem, in every child there’s a painting, in every child there’s music, and do you know what? As people get older we get embarrassed about that, thinking wooooh, can’t be thinking that sort of thing, can’t be writing poetry. No. I want all our children to be inspired, all our children to have the right to play music, to write poetry, to learn in the way that they want.
In this festival, this wonderful festival, with all its stages and all its music, gives that choice and that opportunity to so many young musicians that they can 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 and its activities 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 destruction of habitat, through pollution of our seas and our rivers.
We have to live on this planet, there is only one planet, not even Donald Trump believes there’s another planet somewhere else. And so let us protect the planet we have got, use the technology we have to manage and control the use of our natural resources that the planet has her for future generations in better state than it is at the present time. But it’s also about our creativity, creativity that brought us the things we have talked about, but 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 who are being discriminated against in just the same way that sexism was, be it in lower pay for women, less opportunities for women, or less aspirations.
We need to challenge sexism in any form in our society, to challenge homophobia, to challenge all the discrimination that goes on and to ensure that the society that we want to build is one that’s inclusive for all. I want to see a world where there’s real opportunity for everybody within our society, that means sharing the wealth out in every part of our country and looking to global policies that share the wealth, not glorify in the injustice of inequality where the rich seem to get inextricably richer and the vast majority continually lose out, and those that are desperately poor live on the margins of society euphemistically known as the fourth world.
Surely we can as intelligent human beings do things differently and do things better. And when we are here in Glastonbury we are doing things differently, we are doing things better, and we are seeing that inspiration. And there are many people that we learn from in our lives, we learn from our parents, we learn from our teachers, we learn from those that have written music for us or written poetry for us.
It’s that sense of unlocking the potential in all of us that I find so inspiring, and I’m inspired by many poets and many people, and I think we should adopt a maxim in life, that everyone we meet is unique, everyone we meet 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 an enemy, see them as a source of knowledge, a source of friendship, and a source of inspiration.
And if I may, I would like to quote one of my favourite poets, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who wrote in the early 19th century, many, many poems and travelled extensively around Europe. And 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/ You 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 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 have got, and achieve a decent, better society where everyone matters, and those poverty-stricken people are enriched in their lives and the rest of us are secured by their enrichment.
Photo: Garry Knight (flickr, copyleft)