Entertainment & Arts

Glastonbury 2014: Michael Eavis creates Tony Benn tribute

Tony Benn in 2011 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tony Benn was a regular speaker at the Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis has paid tribute to Tony Benn, a "friend of the festival" who died in March.

Eavis, 78, appeared at the Left Field political forum, where Labour MP Benn had made regular appearances over the past 12 years.

"What a fantastic fellow," said Eavis. "Highly principled. A conviction politician. He didn't do what was popular, he did what was right.

"We're going to miss him so much. How can we replace him, I ask you?"

Image copyright PA
Image caption Eavis beside the newly renamed Benn Tower of Strength

The festival is also renaming the 21-metre Left Field Tower after the late politician and anti-war campaigner.

The structure, topped with a bright red star, was originally built in 2004 by GMB apprentices from the Appledore shipyard in Devon, who were fighting against the threat of closure.

It will now be called the Benn Tower of Strength, Eavis announced.

The structure has been decorated with pictures of people from all races and creeds tugging on a rope. "It's all about people pulling together," Eavis explained.

Writing in the official Glastonbury programme, Michael's daughter Emily Eavis said: "Tony Benn was a true inspiration and great friend of the festival. A regular speaker in the left field, he loved coming here every year.

"As a tribute, working closely with the late politician's family, we have renamed the Left Field Tower.

"Heralded as a 'tower of strength' by Tony Benn at its launch in 2004, it lies at the heart of the festival."

Billy Bragg also paid tribute, saying Benn had been "a massive presence at Left Field since the early days".

In a column for the festival's free newspaper, the protest singer wrote: "When asked to suggest an epitaph for himself, [Tony] suggested that he'd like his gravestone to read 'He encouraged us'.

"At Left Field we aim to carry on his work by offering encouragement to those who are weary from the long struggle for a fairer society."

The 2014 Glastonbury Festival runs at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset until Sunday.

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