Bored of Brexit

I’m bored of Brexit. I think most other people probably are too. It is of course the biggest task facing the government for the next few years and how it happens or doesn’t happen could have huge implications for us all. But that doesn’t stop it being quite dull. 


(apologies to Allan Ahlberg and Fritz Wegner for mucking around with this picture)

Brexit is dull for the same reasons that prior to last year’s referendum the EU was dull enough that most people didn’t really know or care very much about what being in the EU meant in any detail. Which is why so much of the debate was about simple elements like “taking control of immigration“, getting back the old midnight blue hardback passports we used to have, or whether there were other things we might or would do with the money we currently sent to the EU. That’s not to say that there weren’t better and more informed reasons for leaving or that even those things weren’t important enough to justify a vote to leave. They were certainly more compelling than arguments to stay based on things like the importance of the Single Market and Customs Union which to the majority of people might as well have been in Sanskrit for all the obvious impact they had on their lives as they are lived. 

This doesn’t mean that things like the UK’s trading relationship with the EU are unimportant. They’re incredibly important. But just as the way in which the Single Market operates, the framework of laws and regulations, the institutions involved in determining and enforcing those laws and so on were of little interest to most people prior to the referendum, I think that the immense and intricate detail of what will follow will be too. The vast majority of people are, I believe, not ultra keen on either extreme of the leave/remain debate. They’d think it wrong if the government decided to ignore the referendum and just stay in the EU and they’d think it wrong if the government ended up leaving on obviously bad terms just for the sake of leaving. Quite where the line should be drawn in between those extremes? Most don’t really know. We can have preferences on individual issues but as an overall position? Put that in the box marked “meh”. This is probably a better explanation for why the UK economy hasn’t collapsed (and indeed has grown more than forecast) than “well that’s because Brexit hasn’t happened yet, just wait and see when it does”.  It is only those at the extremes who have a clear view and for them either Brexit will always be too “Hard” or too “Soft”, depending on whether they were rampant Remainers or Leavers. 

I think where we’ll end up, boringly, is with something in between which will have those at the extremes still unhappy. We’ll be out of the EU, so those who believe that we shouldn’t under any circumstances leave will consider any form of leaving to be terrible. We will however not just rip everything up so it’ll be too soft for the most foam-speckled Ukippers.

I think it is almost certain that despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the rights of EU citizens currently in the UK to stay (and about Brits abroad in the EU not to be repatriated) the status quo will be preserved. It is also quite likely that whatever restrictions are placed on future movement between the UK and EU they won’t be so onerous as to prevent those who are genuinely moving to work or study from being able to do so, even if it might not be quite as simple as waving a burgundy passport. If anything, I think economically there could be benefits for much of the rest of the EU if there isn’t completely free movement of people with the UK – once outside the EU, ending free movement would restrict the UK’s ability to have a competitive advantage in attracting workers from elsewhere, driving up wages and costs in poorer countries and reducing them in the UK. That’s why even with “control” over immigration, the UK probably wouldn’t want to shut its borders regardless. 

As long as we can see that the government has the power to control immigration and is using it to stop obviously harmful people coming, the actual numbers won’t matter so much any more because people will assume that the numbers coming and going are controlled. The perception will be different even if the substance is not very. In the absence of lots of new states acceding to the EU there isn’t another bow wave of EU migrants like in 2004 to come in any case. 

In other areas, I don’t think there will be any real appetite to “punish” the UK by making life hard in trade, just as I don’t think this government, or any of the ones we’ve had since 1979 would want to depart from the idea of minimising trade barriers between the UK and the rest of the world. I suspect that the Great Repeal Bill which will enshrine existing UK implementations of EU law in UK law post-Brexit will end up with a very leisurely pace of actual repeal and replacement and often strong reasons in the future to shadow what is happening at an EU level on uncontentious topics. Relatively few implementations of EU regulations by means of the power to implement using Statutory Instruments were ever put to a vote and this reflects how uninteresting they were. Their replacements will not magically become more interesting in post-Brexit Britain or Westminster. Similarly, while formally remaining in the Customs Union will probably not happen, does anybody here or in the EU really want to start putting up tariff barriers and working out what they might be? It would be easier not to bother rather than to generate some new tariffs the effects of which would not be predictably to the benefit of either side.

One of the reasons why the EU is slow at negotiating trade deals is that they need to be approved by all Member States – so putting in a tariff on say, new cars, which might benefit German car manufacturers in competition against UK ones might also inadvertently benefit German manufacturers against French ones who would suddenly find that their domestic market had less competitive constraint coming from imports from the UK and the Germans were better placed to exploit it. Nobody knows and I think, however much the Commission might want to preserve the purity of the EU and dissuade anyone from breaking ranks, the Member States will reasonably quickly conclude that it’s a game not worth playing. Similarly, in Financial Services, could anyone predict with any certainty that damaging the City of London would benefit Paris and Frankfurt equally rather than make one or other become dominant? Leaving things be would be more likely to appeal to EU national leaders than giving London a “punishment beating” and finding that it ended up harming their own country.

Now, I agree that these also sound like good reasons not to bother with changing anything so why bother leaving the EU at all? Personally I took the view that most if not all of what the EU provides can be done by the UK alone and so from an abstract perspective we don’t absolutely need to be in it. At the same time, there weren’t so many things about the EU which upset me so much that I wanted to leave in order to achieve them and that there were lots of things which I’d really rather the UK never did which they would be able to do if we did. But that is where I think there is meaning in “Brexit means Brexit”. Leaving the EU will allow for changes in the stuff that people do care about and it will make little difference in the end to the boring and specialist stuff that they never busied themselves with before and have probably already glazed over reading in the previous couple of paragraphs. It is the EU’s failure that it didn’t understand how little it needed to change to have kept the support of the UK’s population and so gave Cameron not even that. 

I’d have been more concerned about Brexit had it been pushed by a government which was likely to want to make big changes to those “boring” bits and to depart from the broadly economically liberal underpinnings of the EU to become much more protectionist and interventionist. But, thankfully, we don’t look like we’re going to get Jeremy Corbyn and his ilk anywhere near power and his concept of a “different, social Europe” is almost certainly likely to be even less appealing to the rest of the EU than any plausible actual post-Brexit Europe. If we think that getting to have relatively free access to the EU Single Market while placing restrictions on free movement of people is a difficult task then doing so while restricting free movement of capital and goods and freedom of establishment instead would be positively Herculean. 

So, while it will probably be a massive balls ache in practice for the government and civil service to negotiate the implementation of Brexit, and as an EU lawyer, one that made me shudder enough to vote for remain, it is a boring process balls ache rather than one that will make much difference to the vast majority of people. Which is why Brexit is itself boring and in particular, why those making ultra-technical legal arguments about things like the revocability of notification under Article 50 TFEU are beyond boring to anyone who is not either professionally interested or intent at all costs to prevent it from happening.

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Winning the Peace

A week and a half has gone by since the people of the UK voted by a margin of over a million in a referendum to leave the EU. Even though it seems longer as so much has gone on since; the Prime Minister, David Cameron, resigning, a campaign to replace him having seen the former favourite, Boris Johnson pull out after fellow Leave campaigner, Michael Gove stood citing Boris’ unsuitability, and frankly incomprehensible chaos surrounding Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, losing half of his shadow ministers after he sacked his shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn and finding that more than three quarters of his MPs voted for a motion of no confidence in his leadership.

Now, the real focus is on who will or should replace Cameron as Prime Minister and how they will effect the changes that should flow from the Referendum result. Cameron resigned because, having campaigned for the UK to Remain in the EU, he did not believe he was the right person to negotiate the terms for the UK’s exit. While I think he could have done so, perhaps by appointing prominent Ministers who had campaigned for exit (such as Gove, fellow leadership contender Andrea Leadsom and Boris) to run the negotiations while he and the rest of his ministerial team continued to deliver the domestic programme of government they were elected for barely a year previously, the decision to hand over in the Autumn to a successor makes sense.

The question is, what should the next PM do and who should it be? Many from the Leave campaign insist that the next PM can only be someone who campaigned to leave the EU. In particular, this is to disqualify the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who was a quiet part of the Remain campaign and who has a commanding enough lead on the first round of MPs’ votes to make it near certain that she will be one of the two MPs put to a vote of the entire Party membership.

However, I think this is based on a misunderstanding of where we actually are today and what the Referendum result means. Many on the Leave side have taken the result literally as one of Leave meaning Leave, with the detail being relatively unimportant. That perhaps explains why there was no single unifying answer to the question posed during the campaign of “what would Leave look like?” (an alternative view on this is that Gove and perhaps even Johnson believed that Cameron would be responsible for what came next so they didn’t need to plan for it – oops). From this perspective, the only thing the UK wants is to be out of the EU so all that is needed is a PM who will pull the trigger on the process by notifying the EU under Article 50 TFEU (though what the process actually entails is somewhat controversial and there’s a respectable school of thought that the longer that passes after 24 June 2016 the less likely it is ever to happen). That would then mean that after no more than 2 years, whether a deal has been struck or no, the UK would no longer be a member of the EU. Job Done.

This approach is based upon seeing the campaign to leave as a war which will not be won until the UK is out of the EU. I believe this is a mistake and one which ironically goes against the accompanying reminder that its adherents have that “the people have spoken” by voting 52% to 48% in favour of leaving. It does so by relegating that decision in the Referendum to being the winning of a battle in the war rather than, as I think makes more sense, to see it as the winning of the war itself. The people have  decided, and the opposing general has conceded defeat.

It is therefore better to consider what comes now as the peace process following the war. For any peace process to be successful it needs to take into account the views of everybody, both victor and vanquished. Otherwise it ends in a Treaty of Versailles situation where there remains a tension which could ultimately lead to arms being borne again (hopefully in the present scenario, only metaphorical ones!).

That is why it is not essential that the next PM be someone who was on the Leave side during the “war” of the Referendum but should instead be whoever, whether on the Leave or Remain side, can secure the best and most lasting solution for the most people. Going too far in the direction of one or other extreme – appeasing just the 52% who voted to Leave or doing what the large minority of 48% who voted to Remain won’t do this.

Thankfully, the reality, as I see it, is that while the Referendum had a clear binary split because there were only two options available, people’s views about what they actually wanted covered a much broader spectrum. There will have been very few people who voted to Remain who thought that the UK’s relationship with the EU or indeed the nature of the EU itself were perfect, whether on the basis of what they are now, the relatively limited package of reforms negotiated by David Cameron ahead of the Referendum or some other measure (such as Corbyn’s “campaign” to remain in a social EU which does not exist and is almost entirely inconsistent with the one which does).

Similarly, while there is a sizable proportion of Leave voters who simply do not care to have anything at all to do with the EU and would like to tear up everything the EU ever touched in the UK, I’m not sure they even form a majority of the 52% who voted to Leave. Instead, significant proportions of them would favour retaining the UK’s position of access to the EU’s single market, whether as members of EFTA, the EEA or some other means. Some of those would not be averse even to retaining the free movement of persons which are currently guaranteed by EU membership, provided that it was something which was chosen by the UK government and capable of being changed in the future were there to be a government elected with that aim.

This spectrum of opinion can be seen running from Cameron (who obtained a degree of renegotiation) through May (who had been among the leading critics of the related but separate impact of the ECHR, albeit that one of the first things to go in her leadership bid was a pledge to exit the ECHR) to Leadsom (who only a few years ago argued that leaving the Single Market would be economically disastrous)  and Gove (who argued during the campaign that the best approach would be to have trade with the EU regulated only by WTO rules). Apologies to Stephen Crabb, the other contender for the leadership, who unfortunately seems to have been forgotten in all this by everyone, including me. Fewer apologies to Liam Fox who I don’t think should be running at all because of the circumstances of his resignation as Defence Secretary (we can’t have someone who didn’t see there was anything wrong with having his mate hanging around the Ministry of Defence without any formal role or security clearance as PM). [Since writing these words about Crabb and Fox and going off to give my son his tea (he’s northern), bath and bedtime story, the first round of MP votes has led to Fox being eliminated, Crabb ending his bid and lending his support to May and Leadsom and Gove remaining to fight over who would come second and compete for the votes of Conservative Members – told you events were flying thick and fast!]

The question is now which of these candidates to replace Cameron can best come up with a solution which balances out the requirements of enough of those who voted either way in the Referendum to be acceptable to the highest proportion of the public. And can they also demonstrate that they have the skill , diplomacy (so anyone appointing Farage to any role is immediately debarred in my view) and persuasiveness to ensure that their solution can be accepted by the EU and implemented by Parliament, whether by maintaining complete discipline among Conservative MPs with a small majority or by seeking a new, larger mandate following a General Election.

My hunch is that Theresa May will win on all of these grounds. Both Leadsom and Gove’s pitches on the EU issue have been at the more extreme/pure end of the spectrum, Leadsom having gained the probably unhelpful endorsement of many connected with UKIP (who won’t have a vote) and Gove taking his typically idealistic/intellectual stance which makes compromise more difficult. Each would therefore find it more difficult to stay true to their stated position while being palatable to enough of those who favoured milder forms of exit or would have preferred not to leave. Gove also has the handicap of being (somewhat unfairly, in my opinion) a totem of unpopularity outside the Tory Party for his largely successful battle against the education policy establishment as Education Secretary as well as having generated a degree of resentment within the Party for his ruthless destruction of Boris Johnson’s bid for the leadership. May on the other hand is clearly tough enough (described today approvingly by Ken Clarke in an off air moment captured by Sky News as “a difficult woman”) to be able to do the job without being obviously too much for either Remain or Leave.

The other consideration that comes in here is that the whole process must be done while continuing with the everyday work of government and working towards being capable of winning the next General Election. There’s no point for any Conservative to choose a quick, painful and unpopular Brexit which would ultimately lead to the worst of all worlds consequence of electoral defeat to an opposition which had suddenly been given a whole load of new powers to reverse what the governments of the past nearly 40 years have done. At the moment the threat of serious electoral challenge seems dim given the civil war seemingly about to take off within Labour, but I’d prefer not to rely on that (and as Cameron put it in PM’s Questions last week, it’s not in the interests of the country even if it is in the interests of the Conservatives – for heaven’s sake, man, go!). What about UKIP? Well, I think that Nigel Farage has by resigning its leadership agreed with me that the war is won and should only be re-entered in the event of “betrayal” by the government. Under new leadership it can decide whether it would like to pivot to make a concerted push to build on its gains of support from disaffected Labour voters in the North and Midlands who’d never consider voting Conservative.

Most people are almost certainly very close to being sick and tired of the whole topic so it would have to be a very clear and egregious betrayal to make it worth restarting hostilities. Reasoned practical delays probably won’t get the blood of activists pumping while the stated government intention is to exit (eg to pass legislation, to formulate a detailed plan for what we’d like post-EU Britain to be like, to focus on any short term economic shocks, to put Brexit on hold if the EU starts a more general Treaty change process, perhaps even to wait for the outcome of next year’s elections in France & Germany to make the negotiating environment more stable over the 2 year process, etc…).

Glastonbury 2016

26 Bands, 25 Hours without sleep – my Glastonbury in a nutshell

Before I forget in the excitement of everything after the EU Referendum, some thoughts on this year’s Glastonbury Festival, which I’d hoped would be a nice distraction after a seemingly interminable and often depressing campaign. Unfortunately, that’s not how it turned out and instead, the Referendum hung over the festival like a miasma. First thing on Friday morning all you could hear were groups of dazed people sitting outside their tents debating what exactly had happened and I’ve never been to a more political Glastonbury. And I didn’t even get a chance to heckle Jeremy Corbyn as he somehow decided that even he couldn’t justify talking to a few hundred people in a tent in the middle of nowhere the day after the result. Anyway…

Michael Eavis (pictured doing a regal inspection of the site) has said that this year’s festival was the muddiest ever. I haven’t been to all of them, but the mud was much more of an issue than any other year I’ve been. This is probably because unlike other “wet” Glastonburys there had been a lot of rain over the preceding couple of weeks so that the whole site was already pretty saturated even before the car parks were opened. Thankfully the group I drove down didn’t get particularly delayed going in, but another of our party took 17 hours to arrive from Manchester.

Thursday

Thursday at Glastonbury is mainly for wandering around to get your bearings as they always seem to move things around a little bit and to spend the evening drinking beer at the Avalon Inn. Because more and more people each year aim to turn up as soon as the gates open, there are a few bands on, including “secret” unannounced sets in the Williams Green tent. Unfortunately, this year’s secret acts were not inspiring (why would anyone want to see the comeback of Travis?) and nobody really believed that they’d include the rumoured Radiohead set (why would they bother playing a secret gig when headlining the Pyramid is only ever a phonecall away?). So the only act I saw was…

The Smyths- a nearly note-perfect Smiths tribute. Except the singer was trying too hard to sing the songs as Morrissey and wasn’t very good at sounding like Morrissey. Which is a shame because, as Johnny Marr demonstrates in his solo gigs, the songs are good enough to be enjoyed without the distraction of Morrissey’s idiosyncracies.

Friday

Friday morning had the air of a wake, with these obituary posters for Britain in the EU all around.

So, it was high time to lift the mood by letting the festival begin properly. In the rain.

James- were first on the Other Stage (I’ve just about got used to not calling it the NME Stage, helped by the fact that the NME is now completely dire, rather than just patchily so). Their start was delayed by 50 minutes as the area in front of the stage was waterlogged and needed to be covered in wood chippings. Which was bad enough as it meant that the usual meticulous planning of which bands to see through the day was also disrupted, but was made worse by being forced to listen to the entire Athlete album over the PA. We were also treated to our first artist comment on the Referendum, concluding with “fuck em” followed by a spirited rendition of the optimistic Tomorrow.

Blossoms- weren’t really on my list of bands to see but followed James on the Other Stage and my companions, who mainly live in Stockport wanted to stay to watch this local band. Also, there wasn’t really much else on that would have inspired, even if a day and a half on site made me reluctant to trudge quite as far as I have in previous years (a steady 9 miles or so each day rather than the 20 I’ve done on days with better line ups). Blossoms are a sunny synth rock group and very young. So young that it took a little while to realise that their prettily androgynous singer was just too young to shave (and other band members had only rudimentary facial hair, mainly, I think, to show that they were able to grow some at all). And the sun came out

Gringo Ska- ska ozric tentacles. It’s the flute. Probably wouldn’t have got the “tick” (3 songs or 20 minutes) had it not been such a trudge through the Glade on the way to the Cabaret Tent in anticipation of rain (which came in bucket loads once we were safely sat down inside).

DJ Ivan Brackenbury (comedy) – hospital radio act, literally. Jokes with apt songs- 5 organ transplant from crashed netball coach= mambo no 5. An unrepeatable play on the words Country Tracks. Puerile but cumulatively funny just by the sheer weight and pace of weak jokes.

Jeremy Hardy – I’m not a big fan of Jeremy Hardy. I think the News Quiz is substantially funnier when he’s not on it. However, in the context of heavy rain and the likely fertile comedy potential for a professional curmudgeon of the Referendum he was worth seeing. And, although my northern chums did find his implicit “blame thick northerners” approach unfunny, I thought he was pretty good because he was actually angry rather than just a bit tired of it all. I liked his suggestion of going to the Green Fields and telling the hippies they’ve got their work cut out dispelling negative energy. And his full Trump as Cartman worked a lot better than the hint at it he’d done a couple of weeks previously on the News Quiz.

Shappi Khorsandi- OK, fluffed a few gags. Had an unusual explanation for why there are so few women comedians – that it is because women are used to people being supportive if things don’t turn out how they want whereas men are brought up to expect no sympathy, get mocked for it and to try again in front of the people who mocked them.

Lumineers- sun and sunshine. First proper good band of the day.

ZZ Top- beards and hits. “Let’s stay here all night long and make some barbecue “. They looked like they were having fun. Enough to be able to discern a smile through the trademark beards (apart from the drummer whose surname is Beard but doesn’t wear one).

Explosions in the Sky- introduced themselves by saying they’ve been going 16 years and had been told they should play Glasto and here they are. 4 guitars. Feedback. Mogwai from Texas. Liked them from 15 seconds in. Very tight. I’ve just listened to their latest album and it’s a bit more like Storm in Heaven era Verve (without the fag packet lyrics) but quite heavy live. They were on at the John Peel tent which had been relocated about 100 yards up a slope from its previous position and the tent is now much better (last year much of the floor was awash with water) as well as having a decent area to sit outside and a convenient bar.

Savages- a bit like Siouxsie and the Banshees but not as good. Better on record as less waily and more intelligible. Didn’t make the £5 deposit for the much touted steel pint glasses from the Bimble Inn (which initially seemed to have bargain prices with pints a pound cheaper than elsewhere on site) any more bearable. Particularly as there was only only Water Aid kiosk which would give refunds for the “deposit” and that was located back up the top of the Park Stage which I couldn’t be bothered to slog up.

Underworld- meh. Some dance acts (notably Orbital or Hot Chip who were surprisingly good in the same slot at West Holts last year) are excellent live. Others are single-paced and dreary unless you’re in the middle of the main crowd doing what passes for dancing when your wellies are glued into the mud and perhaps chemically enhanced. Underworld are the latter.

Blackberry Smoke- country rock as an unobjectionable backdrop to a pint at the Avalon Inn. One of this year’s welcome innovations is that the tented Avalon, John Peel and Acoustic stages have had most of their sides left open so that you can hear the music and see the performers from outside the tents.

Saturday

Squeeze- meh. Coincidentally got the “tick” while crossing Pyramid field.

Hardwicke Circus- 60s straight rock. Again, not intentionally watched but happened to be on in the Acoustic tent while we sampled the Real Ale bar and its particularly welcome seating (the toilets in this field are also usually the least unpleasant in the whole festival).

Ozric tentacles- did what they do much as they’ve done it for 30 years. Psychedelic space synth rock. Never trust anyone who can identify individual tracks by their titles. Although you’d probably work that out by the way their pupils are hazy and pointing in different directions and the smell of patchouli.

Jagwa Ma- the Australian regular fries but more upbeat because they’re Aussies. Then went a bit orbital which makes them great. First time all festival that the crowd really got going. Although that is perhaps more a function of my choice of acts!

Madness- couldn’t hear well from edge of Pyramid field but they played the hits. Cover of Bowie’s Kooks after band’s children and grandchildren had come on stage. It was a nice cover of a good song from a great album, but I’m not sure many in the crowd knew it so it only got polite applause.

Ralph mctell- got the tick but have no recollection as was wolfing down Mac and Cheese at the time. I don’t think he played “Streets of London”.

Paul Carrack- like a really good wedding band. Fronted by George Galloway.

Tame Impala- meh

Adele- brilliant, potty mouthed, made a little girl’s day by having her up on stage, hits hits hits (so many that she’d done all the ones I knew 45 minutes in and so didn’t feel bad about heading off on the long walk up to hear Philip Glass’s Heroes Symphony at the Park in tribute to David Bowie (I didn’t have my steel pint glasses with me for a refund)).

New Order- walked past on the way to The Park. Bernard Sumner doesn’t have the best voice in the world but seemed this time to be singing in a Vic Reeves club style.

Glass Heroes Symphony- This was excellent. I don’t think many in the audience had heard Philip Glass’s piece which was inspired by Bowie’s Heroes album (I have it on CD having bought it when seeing the premiere of his Low Symphony some years back) and if you hadn’t  you’d need to be very familiar with the more obscure instrumental tracks on that album to appreciate the link. Unfortunately we were stood next to the biggest twat in the world who spent the first three movements loudly complaining that it was shit, that the musicians shouldn’t have sheet music because they should “know the words” and that being a conductor was a complete waste of time because the musicians could just play. I’m not normally one for a confrontation but had to quietly tell him that he didn’t have to stay if he didn’t like it, or could at least keep his opinions down a little. Unfortunately, that rather escalated to “Fuck off or shut the fuck up”. I left it at the point I could see him and his guffawing acolytes slowly formulating the idea of whether to kick my head in. Thankfully they didn’t and instead got bored and left after discussing whether they should set fire to my hat for entertainment (but luckily decided it was too much bother).

– I’m pretty sure Flock of Seagulls weren’t meant to be in the line up

Sunday

Caravan Palace- French electro swing. Doop. Impressive to get people on a muddy field at noon doing a dancercise class.

Bear’s Den- they’re quite hairy but ok over lunch

Mitch Benn- “after 20 years of not quite being funny enough for the Comedy Stage now I’m not quite good enough a musician for the Avalon. Hope you like my new direction”. Was both funny and musical. Highlight was probably his description of how the Beatles recorded Tomorrow Never Knows using improvised technology (like tearing apart a Hammond organ to feed the vocal mic through its revolving speaker) and then proceeded to recreate it by recording the whole thing on his iPhone and playing it live.

ELO- really needed blue skies but got rain. It didn’t make any difference, still sounded as fresh as it did 40 years ago. And Jeff Lynne looks still just like I remember him on Top of the Pops back in the 70s!

Anoushka Shankar- a welcome sitar chill out then she rocked out. The continuing rain and forecast that it wouldn’t let up until the early hours meant we decided to go and pack up so we could leave after the headliners rather than wait until morning. Particularly as one of our friends had just texted to say that it had taken 8 hours to get out of the car park that morning.

PJ Harvey – was wearing a funereal midnight blue dress. Mainly played songs from the current album and the Mercury Prize-winning Let England Shake. These are serious and weighty songs about serious issues, played with serious expressions. Yet somehow in this live setting they were uplifting and even danceable. Also played a couple of oldies in Bring you my love and  50ft Queenie. PJ read out Donne’s “no man an island” as the most eloquent comment on the Referendum from the stage all weekend. And even exited the stage barely able to suppress a smile. One of the highlights of the festival for me, followed  up by another.

LCD Soundsystem – brilliant, even if the set was shortened by 15 minutes (I think in order to ensure that the Other Stage had cleared by the time Coldplay finished on the Pyramid Stage) and didn’t play North American Scum (which wouldn’t have fitted the tone of the set anyway). James Murphy had the look and intensity of a Baptist Preacher. A great end to what was not, in all honesty, a vintage Glastonbury.

All that remained was to leave for the long walk back to the car, an hour or so waiting for the traffic to move and then 250 miles on the road back to Leeds and the welcome of a hot shower and a clean bed.