Quitting Politics The Glastonbury Way
Two weeks ago I wrote on here about how music no longer seems to play a role in this country when it comes to shouting against social injustice or campaigning for freedom/political upheaval. We appear to all be too apathetic and comfortable to really go out and fight back against the things we thought were wrong.
Well it appears I was mistaken, and that there is still a glimmer of that old rebellious spirit glimmering somewhere deep in the heart of even the most corporate, and soulless, of us all. On Thursday former Labour MP Tom Watson publicly resigned from his role as Labour's general election co-ordinator stating that the moment he reached the conclusion to do so was while watching garageland blues-rock group Drenge perform live at Glastonbury a few days earlier.
I’ll admit right now that before I heard about this story and did some research (yes these articles are actually researched believe it or not) the name Tom Watson meant nothing to me, and to be honest, if someone had told me who he was I probably would have done what any of you would have; nodded, made an unconvincing noise of interest, and begun to think about what life would be like if everybody was suddenly made out of an assortment of French cheeses. However, underneath the suit and tie and the political spin-doctoring, there was a real music buff who was obviously a passionate fan and had been going to Glastonbury for more than 20 years.
In a blog piece he wrote just after the festival for Noisey about his weekend at Worthy Farm he said “No band had really hit home. It felt tame. Then it happened. I was seized with those fragmentary moments of pure music joy that festival goers live for. I found Drenge. Two brothers on a drum kit and lead guitar. I'm 46 years old. I should be reading submissions from the marketing people or approving some clever kid's idea for a new campaign. But I'm in a field in Glastonbury falling in love with a bloke barely in his twenties playing the guitar like a mid-west cyclone”.
I can relate to that, all of us can. We’ve all had moments in our lives where we stumble upon something new and amazing and all you can think is ‘why haven’t I been experiencing this before?’ That’s such a great feeling isn’t it, and I feel happy for Tom that he got to experience that joy and delight again. But then to take it to that next stage and quit your job ... kudos to you my friend. Here is a man that works in a world where it is becoming increasingly harder for people to express themselves and to say and do what they actually believe in. He wants to go to a music festival when focus groups and polling data say it might not be a good idea. In his resignation Tom wrote to Ed Milliband, “John Humphries asked me why you were not at Glastonbury this weekend. I said Labour leaders can't be seen standing in muddy fields listening to bands. And then I thought how terribly sad that this is true. So: be that great Labour leader that you can be, but try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge”.
What an awesome way to hand in your notice. I quit my job only four months ago and wish I had done something like this instead of the usual, formal letter of resignation. So it got me thinking, what is the best song to quit your job to? My personal picks would be ‘Job That Ate my Brain’ – The Ramones or ‘Take This Job And Shove It’ – Dead Kennedys, (please post any other suggestions below, I would love to hear them) with either one perfectly suited to being the soundtrack as you run out the door with a computer under one arm, your tie tied around your head, yelling at all your ex co-worker to do the same and join you in enjoying freedom and life.
This is a great lesson I think that we can all learn something from.
Tom has shown us that even behind all the fake smiles, and rehearsed soundbytes, that people in politics and with other great responsibilities are still human, and, like many of us, can’t think of anything better than going to a muddy field and listening to great music, surrounded by a sea of likewise crazy, smelly, and blissful people. It also puts the message out there that it’s okay for these people to do this. Yes, those in the media will lampoon you for looking silly, or criticise you for trying to be trendy, but who cares? They just wish they could do the same. Maybe if they acted more like human beings and had some fun we would be able to trust them a little more. So next year expect to see David Cameron chilling out at Bestival, or Nick Clegg spending his summer following Iron Maiden around the country on the back of his Harley.
And good luck to you Tom, now that you have a bit of spare time on your hands we could use you here to help out with some reviews and get you into some other festivals.