Sophie Duker and Grace Campbell join Latitude boycott | Festival under pressure over Barclays sponsorship

Sophie Duker and Grace Campbell join Latitude boycott

Festival under pressure over Barclays sponsorship

Sophie Duker and Grace Campbell have joined the list of comedians boycotting Latitude over its sponsorship deal with  Barclaycard.

In an Instagram post, Duker said: ‘Barclays finances and profits from the production of weaponry used in Israel’s genocide in Gaza… I am committed to minimising my complicity in what I consider to be a pattern of abhorrent, unlawful violence.

And she added that: ‘Latitude has been magical for me in the past. Its comedy curation is exceptional and I’ve loved playing the Comedy Arena and I’m touched that the organisers say they look forward to welcoming me back.’


A post shared by DUKER (@sophiedukebox)

Campbell, the daughter of Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, shared Duker's post in an Instagram story, announcing she was also pulling out of the festival.

Previously sketch group Pappy’s and stand-up Alexandra Haddow pulled out of the event, as did musicians CMAT,  Pillow Queens, Mui Zyu, Thumper and Georgia Ruth.

Barclays are on the list of companies the BDS Movement [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] is targeting to put economic pressure on Israel over its actions in Gaza. 

The Download rock festival has been hit with similar action with thrash metal outfit Pest Control and hardcore punk bands Scowl, Speed and Zulu all pulling out.

Pappy’s member Matthew Crosby said of their boycott: ‘Barclays is bankrolling Israel's genocidal assault on the Palestinian people through its financial ties with arms companies that sell weapons to Israel. I love the festival dearly, and this decision has not been made lightly, but I cannot ignore the sponsor's ties to this horrific violence.’

Haddow said withdrawing from the  festival is ‘one of the only things I can actively do’ about the war in Gaza. She added:‘I was so looking forward to playing the festival and hope to do so in the future - it always looks like so much fun.’

Latitude, which will run in Henham Park, Suffolk, from July 25 to 28, has so far not commented on the boycotts.

Barclays has said of the controversy: ‘We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a "shareholder" or "investor" in that sense in relation to these companies.’

Similar protests over the climate emergency has led to book festivals in Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Hay and elsewhere severing their ties with asset management company Baillie Gifford, which has been a major sponsor of the events. 

However there has been some backlash to that campaign, with fears the protests will kill off book festivals with little or no impact on the root causes. 

Richard Osman has said a boycott ‘is the wrong way to go about it…  it does mean that next year almost all of these festivals will probably die’, And he called  Baillie Gifford’s sponsorship ‘our very own windfall tax [with the] money used to spread empathy and ideas and to get kids reading’.

 Baillie Gifford  says just two per cent of its investments are in companies linked to fossil fuels and that it backs the arts as part of its role to put back into society.

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Published: 14 Jun 2024

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