Angela Rayner forced to abandon Glastonbury plans as Labour ordered to skip festival ahead of election

Labour has told its staff that nobody can take time off this weekend to go to Glastonbury even with the party holding a huge lead in the polls.

An insider confirmed “there’s a three-line whip” on everyone not to go to Glastonbury this year with the final week of campaigning about to begin. Even Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has been forced to abandon her plans to go to the music festival where the headliners this week are Coldplay, Shania Twain, SZA and Dua Lipa.

The festival which once echoed to “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” has become another symbol of “No Jeremy Corbyn” from a party which has expelled its former leader in a ruthless charge to regain power.

Instead, staff who have been working day and night in Labour’s swanky offices in Southwark, just south of the Thames, will be redeployed to “key marginals” in the next 48 hours.

“Now the manifesto is done there is less for people to do here and we need boots on the ground in target seats,” The Independent was told on a visit to the headquarters.

Revellers arrive at Glastonbury on Wednesday, but Labour staffers are banned (Getty Images)
Revellers arrive at Glastonbury on Wednesday, but Labour staffers are banned (Getty Images)

There is some discussion over what “target seats” now means with polls suggesting that some constituencies with big Tory margins are now within reach. A sign of that was the decision by Rishi Sunak to spend more time in his Richmond and Northallerton seat in Yorkshire because of the danger of being the first sitting prime minister to lose his constituency in an election.

The revelation came on a visit to the sprawling open plan office where the ruthless Labour machine has planned its expected election victory.

Only Sir Keir Starmer has his own small office with different “departments” nestling next to one another across the expanse.

The area is littered with diet coke cans, bottles of high-energy power drinks and half-eaten oranges in a clear sign of what has fuelled Labour’s march to power over the last few weeks.

But with the policy teams work now done, the floor is emptying as they are bussed off to different parts of the UK to make sure the poll predictions of a massive victory come true.

“Not many actual votes have been cast yet and we cannot take anything for granted.”

There are other signs of what has helped motivate this winning team apart from the discount on drinks at a nearby pub.

Deputy party leader Angela Rayner has had to reschedule her weekend at short notice (PA)
Deputy party leader Angela Rayner has had to reschedule her weekend at short notice (PA)

A plastic model of Liz Truss looks down on people near to the main entrance of the operation, perhaps as a reminder of the “mini-Budget” that dashed Tory hopes of a revival. Ms Truss has featured on many of Labour’s campaign messages, which often question why Mr Sunak permitted her to be a candidate.

Labour have a hope of picking up her Norfolk South West seat which seems to be vulnerable for the first time in recent history.

But while the abiding message in the 2024 campaign has been “change” – change from Jeremy Corbyn, change for the country – there is a giant reminder of Labour’s socialist roots.

A poster from the 1910 election – well before Labour was a proper national force and the two main parties were the Liberals and the Tories – dominates the room close to Sir Keir’s office.

With marching workers it proclaims: “Forward! The day is breaking.”

Campaign manager Morgan McSweeney can be seen pacing around nervously but there is an air of confidence in the room that after 14 years Labour is back and about to seize power again.

A room filled with light and determination seems to reflect the end of a long dark chapter in Labour history. Who needs Glastonbury when you can almost taste victory?