Banksy Responds After James Cleverly Brands His Glastonbury Stunt 'Vile And Unacceptable'

A still of Idles' Glastonbury set from Friday night – which featured this contribution from Banksy
A still of Idles' Glastonbury set from Friday night – which featured this contribution from Banksy BBC

Banksy has issued a response to home secretary James Cleverly’s claim that his recent stunt at Glastonbury was “vile and unacceptable”. 

During a performance by Idles at the music event on Friday night, an inflatable boat filled with dummies wearing orange life jackets, intended to represent refugees trying to pass through treacherous seas, was passed out to the crowd.

The band had initially been unaware of the stunt that was carried out during their song Danny Nedelko, which opens with the lines: “My blood brother is an immigrant. A beautiful immigrant.”

An Idles spokesperson later confirmed the boat was, indeed, a Banksy piece.

According to a photo shared on X by Glastonbury Live, the boat also returned to the crowd for Little Simz’s set on the Pyramid Stage the following day.

The stunt was met with condemnation from the Home Secretary, who told Sky News: “People die in the Mediterranean, they die on the Channel. This is not funny. It is vile. This is a celebration of the loss of life in the Channel.”

He added: “To joke about it, to celebrate it at a pop festival when there have been children dying in the Channel, is completely unacceptable.”

James Cleverly
James Cleverly Wiktor Szymanowicz via Getty Images

Now, the anonymous street artist has responded to Cleverly’s comments on Instagram.

The home secretary called my Glastonbury boat vile and unacceptable’ which seemed a bit over the top,” Banksy wrote.

“The real boat I fund, the MV Louise Michel rescued 17 unaccompanied children from the central Med on Monday night.

“As punishment the Italian authorities have detained it – which seems vile and unacceptable to me.”

The MV Louise Michel, provides life-saving support to those in distress crossing the Mediterranean, and was purchased with the proceeds from the sale of Banksy artwork.

Banksy’s Glastonbury stunt comes after he returned with his first art instalment of 2024 back in March.

The mural featured a stencil of a woman who had sprayed green paint over a white wall behind a pollarded tree, which gave the illusion of leaves.

Last year, he also unveiled a divisive new piece of street artwork centring around domestic violence against women.