Comedians boycott Latitude Festival after musical acts pull out

Entertainment

Comedians Sophie Duker, Grace Campbell and Alexandra Haddow have pulled out of Latitude Festival in protest over event sponsor Barclays’ ties to the Israel-Hamas war.

They follow in the footsteps of musical acts including Irish singer-songwriter CMAT, who announced last week that she would no longer be performing at the Suffolk festival.

Duker shared a photo of her at a previous Latitude Festival, along with a short video explaining that she would no longer be performing as long as Barclays were the sponsor, despite it being “magical for me in the past”.

She said she believed the bank was “profiting from the production of weaponry” used in the Israel-Hamas war.

“I am committed to minimising my complicity in what I consider to be a pattern of abhorrent, unlawful violence,” Duker added.

She also said her pro-Palestinian stance “has gained me violent abuse, targeted pile-ons and death threats”.

The Palestine Action, a group whose members attacked 20 of the bank branches across England and Scotland this week, has accused Barclays of having financial interests in both Israel’s weapons trade and fossil fuels.

Fellow comedian Grace Campbell, who is the daughter of Sir Tony Blair’s former spokesman Alastair Campbell, shared Duker’s post in an Instagram story, announcing she was also pulling out of the festival – which is being held from the 25-29 July.

Meanwhile, comedian Alexandra Haddow said she too would no longer appear, writing on Instagram: “I can’t in good conscience take the fee”.

She went on to say that Barclays was on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) official boycott list, which is a Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments and economic sanctions against Israel.

She said that while she hoped to play the festival in the future, she felt that boycotting this year’s event “is one of the only things I can actively do”.

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In response to the exodus of acts, Barclays has defended its position, saying it recognises “the profound human suffering” caused by the war.

“We provide vital financial services to US, UK and European public companies that supply defence products to NATO and its allies,” it said in a statement.

Pic: Palestine Action/X
Image:
Pic: Palestine Action/X

“Barclays does not directly invest in these companies. The defence sector is fundamental to our national security and the UK government has been clear that supporting defence companies is compatible with ESG considerations.

“Decisions on the implementation of arms embargos to other nations are the job of respective elected governments.”

In a post shared on her Instagram account last week, CMAT said: “I will not allow my precious work, my music, which I love so much, to get into bed with violence”.

Other musical acts to pull out of Latitude include Pillow Queens, Mui Zyu and Georgia Ruth.

Ruth said she had been inspired to pull out after authors at the Hay Festival boycotted the event in protest at Baillie Gifford, resulting in the investment fund ending its sponsorship of literary festivals following pressure from campaign group Fossil Free Books.

And it’s not the only festival facing a backlash over links to the Israel-Hamas war.

Last month, more than 100 acts dropped out of The Great Escape Festival in Brighton and Hove due to its ties to Barclays.

In March, SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, saw many artists refuse to play due to the event’s connections to the US army and weapons companies linked with the conflict.

Download Festival, which comes to Donington Park, Leicestershire this weekend, has seen acts including Pest Control, Scowl, Speed and Zulu pull out, also over the festival’s sponsorship by Barclays.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk.

Musical acts including Keane, Kasabian, Duran Duran and London Grammar are due to headline the event.

Other comedy acts due to perform at Latitude include Jo Brand, Sara Pascoe, Lucy Beaumont, Rosie Jones and Judi Love.

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