Paradise Lost 119

Please start by listening to this brief BBC interview.

I should state again upfront in text that not only have I never taken one single penny, directly or indirectly, from Doune the Rabbit Hole in salary, fee, dividend or expenses (nor from concessions etc), I have put in over 300,000 of personal money, all my retirement savings, to help pay debts.

I have also put in thousands of hours of unpaid work.

I will also state, I think the first time I have made this public, that some years ago (when I had money) I put 90,000 into the Eden Festival to save that festival also from bankruptcy.

I have always believed strongly that society needs more social interaction, and that the increasing isolation of people as consumers in their own living rooms causes a great deal of harm. Community, shared experience, family and plain having fun together are extremely important to me, and always have been. That is why I have been involved.

This is the most personal article I will ever have published or will publish. It is about a campaign of hatred and blatant lies that has caused a great loss to many other people and messed up the holiday hopes of hundreds of families and children, for which I simply cannot apologise enough. I am the target and so many others have been collateral damage.

But it is also a story with much wider resonances that I believe makes it worth your reading – about corporatism, political power, authority, the power of lies, and the desire to destroy something beautiful.

It has had a devastating effect on many people but including on me personally and on those close to me.

I therefore hope it is worth your reading.

Long term readers of the blog will know how important the Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival has been to me since it was started by my son Jamie in 2010. It has now been closed down by an orchestrated campaign of falsehoods which devastated ticket sales.

The Scottish media – including the Herald, Daily Record, Sun, Courier, BBC and STV, have each dedicated at least three times as much space to attacking the Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival as they have to Baroness Michelle Mone taking over 30 million of profit for dumping dodgy PPE on the NHS and disappearing out of the country on her private yacht.

An extraordinary alliance of “progressives”, including the union BECTU and social media such as the Bella Caledonia website and scores of SNP troll accounts, campaigned actively and successfully in combination with the MSM to close the festival down.

Doune the Rabbit Hole specifically aimed to revive the original spirit of festivals and avoid corporatism and rip-off. Just how horrible many so-called festivals have become, is extraordinary to me. Many “festivals” are commercial urban park concerts. Few people realise that Live Nation, which dominates the industry, is a Saudi music-washing effort. Several festivals that were independent, like Belladrum on which we used to model ourselves, have become corporate and changed atmosphere to hard, expensive sell inside.

I have written about Doune the Rabbit Hole frequently here. This is from a March 2020 article.

I have written before about why we do the festival. It is about lifestyle and community, about creating a nicer, kinder world for a short time in the fields on the edge of the Highland Line. Doune the Rabbit Hole is a conscious attempt to maintain the communal values of the earliest music festivals, and the experience is very different from that of the large commercial ones. It is a family festival not just in the sense of being family owned and run. Under 12s come free and there is a huge amount of time and other resource devoted to providing facilities and entertainment for them. The very presence of so many children is important to the sense of being a community, not an audience, as is the extraordinary age range of those who come. There is no dominant age group. Pets are welcome and lots of people bring them.

The finances of the festival are a huge challenge. The fixed costs of the required infrastructure – fencing, temporary roads, water, stages, lighting, sound systems, toilets, tentage, signage, security, first aid and more – are colossal, amounting to over £400,000. This is why many of Scotland’s camping festivals, including Wicker Man and Electric Fields, have closed down in recent years. In the modern age, much of that is mandated by the authorities, for example we would be much happier without six miles of fencing. That is before you pay the musicians. Live performance rather than selling recorded music is nowadays a much higher percentage of a musicians’ income, and the cost of leading bands has increased exponentially in real terms over the last couple of decades. Plus, as a matter of principle, we pay all the musicians, including those looking to break through, of which we have masses.

Ten years of trying has proven to us that the only way a camping festival can survive financially is to reach a size of about 8,000 people, due to the fixed costs. You can imagine the challenges of attempting to grow the festival to the size needed, with all the infrastructure required to keep that many people entertained, safe, fed, watered and with clean toilets (and having the cleanest toilets of any festival is very high on our priorities), yet at the same time retain the community, family, non-commercial and above all friendly atmosphere. I hope that this link might take you to the public reviews on Google. My feeling was last year that we achieved this atmosphere for the visitors but not for the crew, who were over-stressed. I am spending a lot of time on how to make the community work for everybody and keep the finances together, while avoiding commercialisation. We are always very keen on keeping bar and food prices down to ordinary, non-festival levels and making sure that people never feel ripped off on site.

Artistically, I think we succeeded. Doune the Rabbit Hole was a beautiful experience. The Herald’s review of the 2022 Festival called it “the most relaxed of festivals” and concluded:

the self-proclaimed ‘Scotland’s biggest independent festival’ has proved it is a crucial part of the nation’s festival scene, after pandemic-related postponements in 2020 and 2021, with a tasty recipe of relaxed, family-friendly fun, cutting edge new music and established names.

I believe uniquely among music festivals of this size, Doune the Rabbit Hole had no permanent police presence, because the police deemed it unnecessary. Over 14 years, Doune the Rabbit Hole witnessed a total of eight arrests, six for drug dealing and two over matters unrelated to the festival. Most commercial festivals have at least that many arrests every single day. There was never a single fight in the bars, even though they opened until 3am.

I treasured this description of her first festival experience by Nicola Biggerstaff:

The thing that immediately struck me was the relaxed nature of our fellow festival-goers. Knowing only of the hundreds of thousands-strong Glastonbury crowds and the horror stories of the Astroworld crush and the lack of crowd control at Wireless, I was blown away by the chilled-out atmosphere hanging in the air, almost conflicting with the now soaring heat. With my history of anxiety, I was worried about being looked at, being judged, if I was wearing the right thing. I was immediately put right at ease by the array of characters who passed us by without a care in the world. Mad Hatter’s, inflatable T-Rexes, men in flowing skirts and women in suits, families in hiking gear and everything in between. Glitter, neon face paints, bandanas for miles. I had no reason to worry, I could breathe freely. By the first evening, we had given up on make-up and could not have cared less about it. All we needed on our faces was a smile, and a wide-eyed admiration of those who continued to adorn themselves in the forementioned for the duration of the weekend.

Robin McAlpine’s analysis of Doune the Rabbit Hole also summed up precisely what it meant to me.

Finally, what is it that makes people that go to this festival so often reach for ‘friendly’ as the first adjective to describe it? Why does that sense stick with us so much? The answer is because that’s the culture which is created. You smile at strangers when you pass because they smile at you. You help people or start conversations with them because someone else did it for you.

I’m pretty sure these aren’t ‘particularly nice and friendly people’ – it’s not a weekend based on genetic selection or anything. It’s the expectations we set ourselves when we arrive. We expect to not mind taking the ten seconds to stop and say hello, or to pick up something someone has dropped for them, or to tell someone that they look great. So we do.

Happy moments which are out of our normal reality are messages from ourselves to ourselves about why we should not accept our normality

Why are those expectations not ones we hold the rest of the time? What is it that gives us permission to be better people at this event than we might be day to day? I think the main answers are community and time. No-one is rushing, things will wait and if they don’t well that’s not a disaster. You don’t have ten things you have to do with time to do only six.

And you are instantly in a community, one that is going to share much of the same experiences over the weekend. You feel together because you are together.

The key points were that there was no corporate sponsorship or advertising, bars and catering were ordinary prices not “festival prices”, children’s tickets were always free or a token cost and until 2022 children’s drinks at the bar were free. Once inside the festival, all activities were free, there were no extra costs.

After years of financial struggle, in 2020 we finally seemed to have broken through to a size where the festival would stand on its own two feet. With a line up featuring Public Enemy, Belle and Sebastian, Bill Bailey, John Cale and Kate Tempest, we had sold two thirds of the tickets with three months to go, (having always sold over half the tickets in the last six weeks).

In 2020 we were projecting a £300,000 profit which would then set the company up with a reserve against future bad weather years.

Then Covid happened.

Lockdown regulations came in causing us to cancel, just three weeks before the festival, with almost all the infrastructure and artists booked and large deposits paid. The net loss from that Covid cancellation was about £350,000.

We offered to refund tickets and everybody who asked for a refund got it instantly. But such was the festival’s reputation that 96% of ticket holders rolled over their tickets to 2021.

The 2021 festival was planned for a few weeks after the announced date for lifting of covid restriction. Again, everything was fully booked and deposits paid. Then the extension of the restrictions was announced, even after restrictions were lifted in England, with no definite end date.  Festivals in England were meantime allowed. So was the corporate Transmt festival in Scotland, allowed as an experiment. We on the other hand were obliged to cancel yet again, racking up a further loss of over £300,000.

We had now lost almost £700,000 to covid. Against that, we received a £50,000 bounceback loan and Scottish government covid support of just £90,000.

The Scottish government Covid support to festivals amounted to just one fifth per ticket sale of the amount given to festivals in England, as detailed in this letter from Scotland’s Independent Festivals.

The Case for Greater Funding Support of Scottish Independent Music Festivals

This is an extract from the letter:

In absolute terms, the average grant to independent Scottish music festivals, none of which were allowed to take place in 2021, was just £31,545. The average grant to independent English music festivals which had to cancel in 2021 was £432,380, twelve times the amount. In England even those independent festivals which were permitted to go ahead in 2021 received an average grant of £236,948.

The Scottish Government received equivalent Covid relief funding for the Arts from the Treasury. Simply Angus Robertson decided to heavily prioritise the big arts companies and permanent venues – ie buildings, plus a few specific touring artists.

The Stand Comedy Club received four times the funding of Knockengorroch, a vital node for Scotland’s traditional music, while one theatre in Aberdeen received more Covid funding than all Scotland’s independent music festivals put together.

So by Autumn 2021 we were £700,000 down from two Covid cancellations, continuing to have our staff and overheads costs and, after a second year of cancellation, understandably about 20% of ticket holders wanted their money back – and they all got it.

This left a terrible dilemma. If we simply gave up, there was no money to pay back the remaining ticket holders – it had all been spent on the two cancelled festivals and on refunds. If the event went ahead as in 2019, it could never cover the losses.

There was every reason to believe the festival was long term viable. It’s sales growth had been remarkable and consistent. The “go big” strategy in 2022 was nearly pulled off. Look at this graph and understand that, but for those huge Covid losses, the festival was well on the path to success.


(NB these include day tickets, so they are individuals over all three days, not the capacity of the event)

This graph is the answer to those who are arguing that Independent festivals ought not exist, that the sector should be left to the corporations with big pockets, that you ought not be allowed to run a festival unless you have all the cash upfront. That agenda is now being pursued actively and would knock out all the independents to the advantage of the corporates.

That may make you think about who was behind the massive media and social attack.

We decided to bank on further sales growth and make 2022 much more ambitious, spending over twice as much on artists and aiming to provide big name acts who would pack in the crowds. If we could sell out on a 12,000 capacity, we could cover the carried debt from Covid.

With a lineup including Patti Smith, Amy MacDonald, Belle and Sebastian, The Buzzcocks, 10cc, Sleaford Mods, Teenage Fanclub, Boney M and many more, we were advised by our booking agents and by industry professionals we could certainly sell out 12,000 tickets. So we went for it, putting in a £120,000 marketing budget.

It seemed to work. Early sales were extremely good. We had always sold over half our tickets in the last six weeks, and with six weeks to go we were well over half the needed sales.

Then the expected surge did not happen.

I still don’t fully understand why. In May 2022, the massive increase in people’s fuel bills and the onset of the cost of living crisis certainly had a major effect in dropping sales, but could not be the entire explanation. We also had some bad publicity with local councillors grandstanding over our license application (any music festival has the odd local opponent), but that does not explain it fully either.

We discussed with others in the industry. Everybody was experiencing lower ticket sales. Everybody was also experiencing higher costs post-Covid – fencing, stages, toilets, trackway etc had all bounced up by about 40% post pandemic.

But many in the industry reported a tendency for people to put off ticket sales right until the last week, after two years of cancellations. So we decided the late surge would just be later than usual.

With a week to go, having lived at site now already a couple of weeks during the build, sales were still not picking up, and it was now too late to cancel. Life became really unpleasant. Money was lacking to pay people for essential, safety critical equipment and operations, and I found myself cashing in all my pension savings and paying for these things direct.

Various organisational tasks were falling behind for lack of ability to pay people to do them. On top of which my son Jamie, the guiding hand behind the festival, was hospitalised with severe Covid and had been out of action for a month.

In previous years, in the last week we had been getting in £20,000 a day in ticket sales. In 2022 we had nothing near that, so the cash to pay for things was just not arriving.

Astonishingly, in 2022 we sold virtually zero tickets on the gate for the entire festival. This was unprecedented.

The Festival runs its own bars and these could be relied on for £250,000 (indeed!) profit once the gates opened, but getting to that stage was a nightmare.

I contacted everybody I know who might be able to chip in something, explaining that many families and children would lose their holiday if we cancelled. I think at this stage I can reveal that the one person who put his hand in his pocket and gave a four figure donation was Alex Salmond. There were also contributions from other family members.

We had frequent meetings with the management team about the dire situation. There was certainly nobody on the crew side of the fencing who did not know about it. It was incredibly stressful for me, dealing with companies demanding full payment immediately or threatening to not deliver or to withdraw services and equipment.

I also had to deal with numerous bands’ agents. In all of this I was just acting as a stand-in for Jamie, who remained very unwell although he dragged himself to site. I had scores of conversations with agents where I stated, openly and honestly, things like:

“Look, I am really sorry. We just have not sold enough tickets. I just cannot make you the final payment of £x before the artist goes on. No, I just don’t have the money. The Festival has made a loss. I am not going to bullshit you, I can’t promise we will ever be able to pay it”.

Frequently, these conversations concluded with the agent stating that the band/artist would therefore not perform.

Here is the heartwarming bit.

Every single artist did perform. Nobody refused to play. That goes for even the biggest of names. One artist actually said to me directly “These are my people, this is my community, they have come here to be entertained.”

I am very aware that not every artist, particularly those smaller ones without agents, may have gone out to perform in the knowledge that their fee was in danger. I am extremely sorry for this, and should have been more careful to make sure the situation was understood. It was not deliberate omission, everything was such a whirlwind.

Due to a simply incredible “the show must go on” attitude by artists and crew, we got through the weekend very successfully, and as the reviews show I think the festival goers had a wonderful time. The subsequent debt was appalling. When everything was added up, it seems the £600,000 debt we had gone in with had increased to over £800,000 as a result of our efforts to “go big” to get the debt cleared off.

I simply cannot get over to you the terrible feeling that this was. Some of those owed are small businesses and minor artists. Some are individuals. Having been running the festival for so many years, a significant number of those owed are personal friends of Jamie or myself.

I would also stress how astonishingly little rancour there was at first. A great many of those owed money were incredibly pleasant about it. There was much understanding that the basic problem was Covid, which had collapsed so many businesses. People could see for themselves that ticket sales were not what they needed to be. Nobody seemed to believe that anybody had run off with a huge pot of secret money.

There was now a huge decision to make. We could either close down the festival for good – which after this traumatic experience was extremely tempting – or we could go on with it. We were still on a trend of long terms sales growth. There was immediate, high demand for 2023 ticket sales.

The deciding factor was that, if we simply closed down the festival, not one of those people and businesses owed money would ever get paid.

We decided to go ahead with the Festival again in 2023, using the parent company. Doune the Rabbit Hole Ltd was put into liquidation to seal off the debt, but with an agreement with the liquidator that any profits from 2023 and future festivals would go to the liquidator, until all creditors had been paid off in full.

We believed we could pay off all the debt in three years, and starting with a financial clean slate for the 2023 festival we were confident all would be OK. Early ticket sales were very strong.

We were also promised a donation from a “White Knight”, a major corporation, of at least £600,000. Various practical arrangements were required to put this in place, including receiving approval from the charities regulator of a plan to funnel the money via a grant giving charity.

Everything was set up, including with the charities regulator, and the money was supposed to arrive in the bank account by end October 2022.  But it never did arrive, in quite extraordinary and still inexplicable circumstances that would be an article in themselves.

This was yet another emotional rollercoaster, but just put us back to the idea of a three year plan to pay off the creditors.

All seemed to go very well, and a much less expensive but nonetheless highly enjoyable lineup was put together for Doune the Rabbit Hole 2023. Ticket sales were good. Then from about November 2022 began an astonishing series of media and social media attacks on us, ever mounting in vitriol, and very often aimed at me personally.

Very few of these appeared to be initiated by anybody we owed money, though one or two people we owed money were occasionally co-opted by the media. The attacks originated in what I might characterise as Scotland’s public funded arts sector.

They frequently repeated a series of lies that became unquenchable social media myth. Of these the most pervasive were these two. There are others –

1) That Doune the Rabbit Hole had paid nothing to artists and crew in the 2022 Festival
Whereas in fact we had paid over £380,000 to artists and over £180,000 to crew. That is in addition to over £750,000 to suppliers.

2) That Doune the Rabbit Hole had large debts from festivals prior to 2022
We believe this to be simply untrue. We only know of one company owed a debt from before 2022, and that is a final instalment on a lighting company bill that slipped through the cracks during Covid.

The technicians’ union BECTU has appeared frequently all over the media claiming that Doune the Rabbit Hole has debt from multiple years. We have told them repeatedly that we do not believe it is true. We have asked them, face to face and repeatedly in writing, who we owe money to from before 2022.

Eventually BECTU replied to us stating they could not say who we owed money from before 2022, as it was commercially confidential information. Nobody (bar the single company mentioned) has been in contact with us or with the liquidator to claim to be owed from before 2022. BECTU have just been using it as a tool to argue for the closure of the festival; they have done literally nothing aimed at getting any such company paid.

There has been a constant bombardment of negative stories, often fuelled by BECTU. They have campaigned openly to destroy the festival, calling for a boycott, for artists not to perform, and for suppliers to break their contracts.

One major artist has told us that their coach company had cancelled their tour bus on the grounds that Doune the Rabbit Hole is blacklisted. Two of our key staff resigned because they had been told they would not be allowed on other jobs if they continue to work for us.

Music festivals bankrupt in Scotland with unfortunate regularity. Playground, Electric Fields and Wickerman are all major independent festivals that went bust. None has ever been subjected to this sustained campaign of hatred.

Three independent music festivals in Scotland have announced cancellation in the last two weeks, Otherlands, Midnight Sun and EH32.  The post-Covid carnage in the sector, of which we warned the Scottish Government, is unfolding.

In December, January and May, coordinated attacks on Doune the Rabbit Hole were launched across all Scottish newspapers and the BBC and STV. Two of these “coincided” with the very day of 2023 first lineup launch – traditionally our largest sales day – and of our final lineup announcement.

Most of our advertising is online and most of our ticket sales are online, and there have been literally thousands of posts calling on people to boycott the event. These have been positively organised by BECTU, who asked their staff to do it, and by the Scottish government linked troll farms.

It is not just our own posts which have been trolled. Individuals notifying others on Facebook or Twitter and saying that they are going, have attracted numerous trolls telling them to cancel.

The underlying and quite deliberate insinuation had been, throughout, that this is some sort of rip-off and that money had gone missing. This is absolutely untrue.

Well, the campaign has worked. Ticket sales are now so poor we simply cannot afford the infrastructure needed to put the event on safely and in accordance with Council standards.

Over 30 bands have received 100% payment for this year’s performance and many more have received part payment. Many suppliers have already been paid. But we just can’t get it home, and it is not fair to try to sell more tickets when the event may not happen.

So now we have the irony that many artists have been paid to play but will not perform this year, while many performed and were not paid last year.

Because of this campaign to close the festival, those owed from 2022 will now never be paid.

But there is no money left for ticket refunds; people will have to apply to their card issuer. That should work – the card processor holds back 20% of revenue from us, and other independent festivals, as a bond against this happening. But I am extremely conscious that this is not an instant process and many families’ holiday plans will be messed up.

I am sorry there is no happy ending to this story. But that is the unvarnished truth. You will hear much unpleasantness about me this next few days which is not true. I realise some of my decisions did not work out so some criticism is fair, and I accept that. I will try to answer any genuine questions in comments below.


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119 thoughts on “Paradise Lost

1 2
  • terence callachan

    I am not surprised, given your Scottish independence profile. I am of the opinion that it is another example of Westminster’s propaganda war on Scotland.

    • David W Ferguson

      I am not surprised, given your Scottish independence profile. I am of the opinion that it is another example of Westminster’s propaganda war on Scotland…

      It may be “Westminster’s war”, but as was ever the case, the traitors doing the fighting are a lot closer to home…

      • David

        Woe is you.

        Unfortunately, you have made poor business decisions and the business has failed. It is natural to try and blame others, but I am afraid you really need to self reflect and accept this your fault. There isn’t some grand conspiracy theory that you are trying to make out.

        The bottom line is you gambled on trying to go bit, and it failed. Own it.

        • David W Ferguson

          Woe is you.
          Unfortunately, you have made poor business decisions and the business has failed…

          What are you talking about? I haven’t made any poor business decisions. My business hasn’t failed… Oh. Wait. I see. You’re just piggybacking on my comment to get your snark up to the top of the article in the hope that more people will see it.

          Pathetic little COAHB. If I was a moderator that would be grounds for deletion and a warning as to future conduct.

        • Martin

          @David so you’re saying taking risks in business is fine but only if success is guaranteed? Lol of course. Econ 101. Hence why we have the concept of limited liability, which morally speaking according to the professor here should never ever be necessary since ethical individuals would do the right thing and predict the future with 100% accuracy. Good stuff ?

  • Steve Peake

    That’s very sad news. My sympathies and commiserations.

    I manage a band that has performed at Doune the Rabbit on at least two occasions. We’ve always been paid, sometimes a little late, but comms were always good and we never felt at risk of being ripped off. It was very clear what Jamie and Craig were trying to do and that buys alot of patience and solidarity. But the powers that be don’t want festivals such as Doune to fulfill that role as they understand the kind of threat they pose to the dominant, corporate consumerist culture. The same consumerism that is threatening us with catastrophic climate change. That people like Jamie and Craig who want to challenge this culture are seen as enemies to be crushed speaks volumes about the cultural crisis we face.

    It’s very hard to strike the balance between an alternative vibe and ethos on the one hand and a professional operation and commercial viability on the other. It’s an increasingly competitive sector and Scottish weather doesn’t exactly reduce the risk – a weekend of bad weather can take many festivals under. Then adding Covid to the mix stretches the risk to an almost unbearable extent. This is not the first time I’ve seen a festival go under. As Craig mentions, the very high fixed costs which are a licensing requirement makes festivals a pretty risky undertaking. Many friends of mine have tried it, but the numbers have always looked too big a challenge for my taste.

    Add Craig’s political profile to this already challenging mix and we get to where we are. I’ve followed this issue quite closely and I have been dismayed at BECTU’s attitude. It looks like an orchestrated effort to take Doune down and to punish Craig for his defiance.

    The Empire Strikes Back.

  • Joseph Price

    Sounds like a bad outcome for everyone, though I’ve only read & heard your side of the story.

    I don’t feel that it is morally right to pay *in advance* for future work when you have past due debts for work already performed. Unless you gain the consent of those debtors to that plan.

    If that means that you can’t secure that future work in order to make new sales, then I think that’s the fairest outcome for everybody, you, debtors & customers, that a line is drawn.

    I understand businesses rely on cashflow systems, but growing with reliance on them is a risk that you must bear. The law may technically place the weight on your debtors with limited liability and interesting company legal structures, but morally the “company” of individuals owes their debtors above their future customers.

    • Steve Peake

      The problem is that big acts, the likes of which Doune needed to pull the bigger crowds, insist on payment up front. Industry standard.

      Could Craig / Jamie have asked them to waive this requirement ? They could surely ask, but how many would agree is another question. So without the big names, the strategy to go bigger so as to cover the high infrastructure costs falls and any chance of paying off the debt goes with it.

      • Joseph Price

        I’m afraid that’s exactly what I think, sorry. It could work? I’d be amazed if they hadn’t already tried, and it didn’t.

        I figure it’s the morally preferable alternative to inevitably accruing brand new debts, to new parties who might not appreciate you’re already effectively insolvent, gambling that you’ll be able to repay them all, old and new later, through new cashflow schemes.

        • David W Ferguson

          Valuable input Joseph. So, given that trying to run a successful 2023 festival was the wrong strategy to raise funds to pay those owed money from 2022, what, exactly, would your strategy have been?

          Feel free to go into as much detail as possible, and try to end up with something better than “Actually, now you come to mention it, I haven’t a clue. It turns out I’m just a smug, judgmental know-all who’s never run anything more complicated than a bath…”

          • Joseph Price

            It sounds like a great event, and obviously we all agree it would be great if it succeeded again!

            Let’s say 2023 suddenly works out ok and does better than 2022, but doesn’t do well enough to make meaningful progress on 2022 debts and actually, there’s a new debtee for 2023 too. Would it be ok to try again in 2024, give more money in advances to try and make it a success? What if that doesn’t work? 2025? At what point of things not working does this become a scheme?

            Surely we are on the same side here, I just happen to think the point of failure should be distinguished earlier? I’m sorry that sometimes there isn’t a strategy or solution.

            At what point, when other people have lost out through no fault of their own, is it ok to take further risks where more people may lose out? Other people benefiting through advances (even if it isn’t you, the organiser) feels like salt in the wound for the existing debtees.

            I’m completely fine with an organiser taking risks for themself. In a simple sentence: I’m unsure about someone taking risks for others.

  • Leftworks

    This is terrible news, and I am deeply sorry to hear it.

    I hope it is not too dramatic to gently remind you of Seumas Milne’s “The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against The Miners” (1994), in which he details how the British state did its damnedest to find Arthur Scargill guilty of some kind of fraud. I would not be at all surprised to discover that that is coming next: and I earnestly advise you to make sure your financial records are: (a) 100% clear and in order, and: (b) preserved as a second hard copy somewhere discreet.

    Best wishes. Very much hope I’m wrong.

    • Brianfujisan

      It’s A terrible Shame Clark.. I had already Told Nevermind I would see him and yourself and Craig there this year..The Most beautiful Peaceful Festival In Scotland. Feeling Sad.

  • Ben mcdonnell

    The covid panicdemic was misused to transfer wealth from the worse to the better off, including small businesses, in huge amounts. I’m glad you continue to bring up Michelle Mone. The organisations that enabled this swindle should be taken to court and damages claimed. If enough people can come round to seeing this, as they have with our sad ex-PM; it yet may happen. Good luck Craig, and may I say what a great example your interview was of frankness combined with skill to disarm an adversarial interview.

  • Jim Sinclare

    The BBC only go for soft targets. And they promote their own festivals.
    Sad to lose another independent festival. We used to have free 1-day festivals in local parks – all shut down by local councils, who now feel obliged to put on their own (rubbish) festivals at great public expense.

  • Gurka the Mercenary

    Dear Craig

    As an English observer this has many parallels to Scottish Independence.

    An emotional dream which cannot meet the reality of paying creditors. I pray that Scottish Independence never comes about as you boys cannot handle a bank account let alone a government balance sheet.


    [ Mod: This a returning troll, variously known as ‘Ottomanboi’ and ‘Abulhaq’. ]

  • Jon

    With this level of detail and openness, I hope that anyone who thinks of themselves as even-handed will be persuaded you did what you could (and financially went above and beyond). The radio interview struck me as unnecessarily hostile, and I had wondered if the interviewer believed that you had siphoned off some money. Would it not be great if they could grill members of the Establishment in the same fashion!

    So I am sending solidarity – I’m sorry the festival didn’t work out in the end. Covid support for the arts definitely seems to be lacking in Scotland, which I find surprising – I’d have thought it would have been better than England. Cherish the memories of the years when Doune was great!

  • Ian

    I am glad you got this out in the open, Craig, although I am equally certain that the gullible fools who have digested the trolls campaign will not bother trying to understand why this issue goes far wider than your undoubtedly good and decent intentions. Social media combined with the rotten press and tv channels love to jump on a bandwagon and trash someone without the slightest concern for the truth or even the ability to understand how this affects far more people, and our culture than their latest target.
    I find BECTU’s attitude particularly deplorable and completely at odds with the interests of their members. There is obviously a deliberate campaign against you, and the festival is irrelevant to these people. The fact that Stand Comedy Club got so much money during Covid speaks volumes about the cosy nostra that runs Scottish public life, and it is no surprise that the now utterly discredited SNP are at the heart of it. Their dependent client journalists and administrators are all across Scottish institutions, so it easy to see how they set the wheels in motion when they want to.

    It is obvious to anyone who bothers to read this article, as opposed to running straight to the comments in order to repeat the ignorant slurs, that you did everything you possibly could to keep the festival afloat, and I have no doubt you could have paid off the debts once the festival settled into a routine once again. The fact that these people want others to cut off their noses to spite their face is typical of their vindictive attitude, and their desire to attack someone they dislike because he is too painfully hones about the corruption in Scottish life for their comfort.
    It’s the same, same old story about those in power and their underhand ways of maintaining their cosy lifestyles. Some of them will even pretend that they are acting for the benefit of others, like musicians and staff. What hypocrisy. Meanwhile the big earning corporations will be glad to see a competitor who could offer far more them, put out of business. I have no doubt they will seek further damage against you – for simply being an honest man. No promoter in my experience has ever been so honest about the financial situation they faced, the reasons for it, and the plan to surmount it. It was simply an opportunity to attack someone who reveals far too much about the rotten state of governance in this country and abroad.
    I admire you honesty and principles, while I deplore and hold in contempt the small-minded wreckers and stooges, many of whom have themselves milked the Scottish economy while costing the Scottish public purse hundreds of millions of pounds. They are shameless, venal and corrupt, and I applaud you for standing up against their sleekit lies and character assassinations.

  • nevermind

    BECTU seemingly are guided by a strong unionist tradition. This mirrors the actions the English Government did to the Big green gathering which was a similar fair in Wiltshire and Somerset, a fair liked by Michael Eavis. It was stopped 3 days before opening date due to all previously passed conditions put on to the organiser, being revoked. Police Council and Fire services collaberated to shut it down as advised by the Government.
    They feared that many activists were meeting at this friendly green fair and would cooperate and exchange experiences.
    This argument was rubbish, as this was a rare 3/4 day event for relaxation and family fun.

    I’m gutted and sad that I will have to cancel my booking and stay nearby. We have booked a nice meal and various other activities in Stirlingshire and Scotland, sadly not including the islands as transport communications are bad with no plans by the SNP to change this urgently required mode of transport.

    Many local businesses and suppliers will feel the impact of this ludicrous witch hunt when Scotland needs events like this and more.
    Is Scotland now having a campaign to gall its tourists? Is the SNP copying the English self-destruction of economic activities and opportunities?

    • Jimmeh

      > BECTU seemingly are guided by a strong unionist tradition.

      When I read that, I thought “No kidding, Sherlock; they’re a Trades Union”.

      I had to re-read it several times before it clicked that you meant “unionist as in opposed to independence”. At least that’s what I now think you meant.

      I still don’t really understand why BECTU have been so hostile.

      • Matt Quinn

        BECTU have degenerated over three decades to become nothing more than a ‘club’ for the chosen few; something far removed from being a Trade Union – and I say that as one who got their start in television over 40 years ago thanks to the ACTT and the apprenticeship initiative progressed by Alan Sapper.

        …This has been a long descent that began back in ’91. I left the shortly after the ACTT was subsumed (it wasn’t a real merger!) to join the BAJ. When, after the passing of Steve Turner that in turn also morphed into a subsidised drinking club for the London claque; I tried returning to BECTU… The experience was appalling. In particular asking for (as the law demands) basic accommodation for a hearing disability, was a request met with utter contempt. …Local reps were unreachable and untouchable; all they were interested in was collecting subs.

        When I attempted to take the matter up at SMT level with Mike Clancy, he made it clear that he considered dealing with the great unwashed beneath his lofty position… how dare a pleb like me approach almighty Mike. In contrast; when I was an ACTT member I had Alan Sapper’s desk number on a note in my wallet, in his own handwriting; such was the level of engagement!

        Now… that’s just one small personal example. I could cite many more; as a former Lecturer in TV production I’d often (still do actually) hear tales of woe from former students, badly let down and unsupported when they ran into problems. – My consistent advice to them and other colleagues is ‘don’t bother’; which is a strange point for a dyed-in-the-wool (trade) ‘union man’ to be driven to.

        Ian wrote: “I find BECTU’s attitude particularly deplorable and completely at odds with the interests of their members. ”

        As do I… but I also find it completely unsurprising. Where the ACTT was entirely focused on the well-being of its members; BECTU is a Thatcherite Tory-Boy’s wet dream; evolved now over 30+ years to the point where it really has no legitimate point; they are political puppets and in particular, entirely London-centric.

        – The minutia of this case does need to be picked over, and its hard to see what might be wheat and what might be chaff among the varying accounts and reasoning. But it certainly does seem that the overarching picture is one of vindictive establishment interference on an event that is essentially grass roots and happens (dares?) to have someone in the engine room who happens to have upset the grotesques in Westminster, Holyrood and elsewhere.

        As for the BBC… the ‘Brilliant Boys Club’; well we all know you need to be a stadt-approved fully paid up member of the Milngavie Mafie to make any sort of headway with that lot. – There’s no fair hearing to be had there.

        • Jimmeh

          Thanks for explaining; I didn’t know.

          The Electrician’s Union (EEPTU?) scabbed during the Miners’ strike. Apparently BECTU has significant electrician membership.

          • Matt Quinn

            The last Miners’ strikes were in the region of 40 years ago. I’m not sure what the Electrician’s Union did; and can see no relevance between what was going on then and the number of Electricians employed in the entertainment industry. Especially as the point made is that BECTU has become a self-serving claque; the very opposite of a worker-representing Trade Union… as have many other ‘Unions’; perhaps even most of them. – Our Trade Unions were hijacked as political incubators more than a generation ago!

            – I seem to remember significant numbers of Lorry drivers and the firms that employed them ‘scabbing’ too; should we also be dragging them into it? Even those who were callow Apprentices during the Miners’ strikes are now approaching retirement… what they have to do with anything?

        • Matt Quinn

          Following on from my previous comment… and having dug a little deeper; to say I’m disappointed in the Murrays is as much as one can do. I had a little time on my hands yesterday (Sunday the 26th) and used it to go through the books for the THREE companies that have, historically, been behind the festival. – Applying the same techniques of due diligence one might if approached to become involved in a project that might tie up significant time and/or resource…

          Suffice to say that I can now see exactly where BECTU and others are ‘coming from’!!!

  • glenn_nl

    So this is what it’s like to be leaned on by the Establishment.

    Nothing is too petite or vindictive for them, and they don’t mind who gets caught in the crossfire. Their stooges and useful idiots are always up for a bit of harassment, always ready and willing if it’s in a good cause, don’t worry about the facts or details.

    This paragraph in particular:

    The key points were that there was no corporate sponsorship or advertising, bars and catering were ordinary prices not “festival prices”, children’s tickets were always free or a token cost and until 2022 children’s drinks at the bar were free. Once inside the festival, all activities were free, there were no extra costs.

    I thought, “Oh boy!” on reading that. That is going to ruffle some very well padded (and connected) feathers. Just on general principles, never mind your other run-ins with the Establishment. I noticed that despite herself, the BBC interviewer could not allow any humanity to enter the discussion as far as you personally were concerned. She was obviously a real Pro.

  • 6033624

    I feel for you and all associated with the festival. I spent years dealing with businesses who had folded, ceased no assets etc., and others who went through lengthy insolvencies. I was struck by the number of fairly large debts incurred and then disposed of only to have phoenix companies take over. Money ‘removed’ from businesses by directors making profitable businesses into ceased ltd coys and in one case this was done so a director’s family member could have an unreasonably expensive wedding (really). All of this happened and nothing was ever said. They often did this deliberately and our severely underfunded investigatory unit which would have taken them to court couldn’t deal with the volume, only taking the VERY best cases to court. During all of this these happened with no publicity, no press, no outrage from unions or politicians – not a peep. I’ve seen businesses that got COVID loans and then immediately closed and ceased with no assets leaving all creditors unpaid. I won’t comment too much about what the money was actually used for. The fact that your case is even considered noteworthy is in itself noteworthy. There is no doubt that someone has made a decision to stop YOUR festival and no, you’re not being paranoid. Obvious fraud is ignored on a daily basis yet a case where circumstances beyond your control, which could never have been envisaged, are being held against you and a union is actively working AGAINST the interests of their members and those of other creditors, means someone with a LOT of sway wants you gone.

    • mary-lou

      my thoughts exactly (have volunteered at several small-scale fesivals in Europe): “… a case where circumstances beyond your control, which could never have been envisaged, are being held against you and a union is actively working AGAINST the interests of their members and those of other creditors, means someone with a LOT of sway wants you gone….”
      does that mean it’s political, more than anything else?

    • Casual Observer

      Lot of it going on, and the covid was a gift for the opportunists, extending all the way up to the Mrs of our present First Lord of the Treasury.

  • Sam

    My god. I knew that they hated the truth and honesty and human rights, but I just never fathomed how much they truly hate human HAPPINESS. This is why they are destroying you, make no mistake about it.

    The truth can be uncomfortable, so some people look away. Honesty can be painful and is thus often avoided, and plenty of people are conditioned to freely give up their human rights. But happiness? It is infectious. It is the joy that lifts up every spirit and puts a smile on every face. And these devils simply cannot stand it. They will do everything in their power to prevent happy people ever assembling together, anywhere, under any circumstance.

    Please, for the sake of your family, consider moving to a free country (i.e. not in the European Union or the 5 Eyes), so that you can continue to be a beacon of light. Because they will not rest until you are dead. And your wife and children deserve better than to see you come to the end of your days in a dungeon.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy”.
      – H. L. Mencken

      To which I might add,

      “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”.
      – H. L. Mencken


      “Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it”.
      H. L. Mencken

      It’s remarkable that Mencken wrote nearly a century ago, so extremely well do his strictures fit today’s events.

      • Casual Observer

        The observations of Mencken, Twain, and more lately Sowell, demonstrate that there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to ‘Nudging’ the opinions of the mass of the public. 🙂

    • Wilma Grant

      Sorry, Sam – anyone who thinks that the destruction of human happiness is not the ultimate aim of our overlords has not been paying attention.

      Watching the Covid inquiry on tv I am put in mind of Frank White’s radical insight into an individual’s inner cognitive shift in awareness, which suffuses the brain after seeing the Earth from outer space.

      As people like George Osborne (I suppose they are people, really, though opinions differ) give evidence on the Age of Austerity the thing that stands out – that radiates malignly – is the Overview Effect of looking down on planet Earth and the all-but-imperceptible little people from what the OBR chair Richard Hughes calls ‘fiscal space’.

      Unlike Frank White’s version, the view from fiscal space leads to not just to absolute detachment and callousness in respect of ‘quality of life’ or ‘society’ or ‘justice’ or ‘human rights’ or ‘human dignity’ or any of that, but to a maleficent desire to make ordinary life utterly miserable.

      (Who can forget the odious Alistair Darling boasting about cuts ‘deeper and tougher’ than anything Thatcher had dreamt up, and his ‘two parliaments of pain’? I can’t.)

      Hampered by the common delusion that the reign of austerity arises out of abstract/analytical ways of thinking, and that ultimately it will lead to Better Things, people keep voting for persons promising more of the same. But the Overview Effect is to conceptualise the little people as a yeast infection that the rich and powerful have to put up with… it can’t be killed off – or not all at once – but it can be viciously scourged.

      Does that sound about right?

  • fonso

    Sounds like your critics very deliberately do not want to understand the basic facts of the situation. It is how they operate when smearing dissidents.

  • Robert Dyson

    I did not know any details of this festival though you have mentioned it many times. I noted that you seemed to serve drinks at one of the bars and had in mind that I would visit at some point just for the privilege of meeting you!
    What has happened is meant to punish you, just as your prison time for honest reporting of the Salmond trial. Your reporting on Assange and Independence have set powerful forces against you. Lockdowns destroyed many small businesses while big business boomed, your festival’s resilience maybe needed another kick to get rid of it.
    Paul Marik is a wonderful US physician, specialist in Pulmonary and Critical Care medicine. He treated people successfully for covid-19 early on with repurposed medicines. For that he was dismissed from his hospital job. He did important research showing that high dose intravenous vitamin C with a steroid successfully treated sepsis (no deaths) published 2017. There was a paper published in 2022 asserting that his research was fraudulent. He fought back and won.
    You are not alone.

    • Tom Welsh

      “What has happened is meant to punish you, just as your prison time for honest reporting of the Salmond trial. Your reporting on Assange and Independence have set powerful forces against you”.

      That seems exceedingly likely. When a critical number of “the great and the good” become irritated by the words and deeds of any person, they make a point of crushing that person – to show they can, and “pour decourager les autres”.

      I cannot recall another recent event that so brings to mind the old saying, “breaking a butterfly on the wheel”. Mr Murray is exactly the kind of decent, benevolent, kindly, unselfish citizen whom we desperately need – and whom the powers that be hate and wish to be rid of. The contrast between him and the people who rule us is stark, frightening, and very damning.

  • Andy

    Please name the “major corporation” that was going to be your “White Knight” and give us all the info you have on why they pulled out.
    My suspicion is they may also have lucrative contracts with the Government and were warned these were under threat if they supported you.
    At the very least, a lot of folk will want to boycott this company unless they have a good reason why they didn’t proceed.

    • craig Post author

      The corporation was Northern Trust Ltd (and Northern Trust 2 Ltd). It is a very strange story and we cannot rule out that the person who purported to represent them was engaged in some kind of elaborate fraud, though he stood to gain nothing from it so far as we can see. The arrangements with him were put in place over many months.
      He seemed entirely credible, was a very serious gentleman in his 70s and had first met one of our staff on a Scottish govt workshop on arts funding.
      Our lawyers have subsequently written to Northern Trust Ltd to see what is happening and specifically have asked whether the person who purported to be acting on their behalf actually was. Peculiarly, they do not reply to our lawyers.
      This is strange, because surely if the gentleman was not really connected to them a brief reply saying just that would settle the matter.

        • David W Ferguson

          It might be worth naming the gentleman in question too. I can’t see that there would be any legal issues in terms of what you’ve told us about him. You haven’t accused him of anything. Anybody else who came into contact with him would understand the need to do due diligence.

          And there is another possibility that you haven’t alluded to – that it was actually his job to lead you on and get you into even deeper difficulties. That might explain why Northern Trust aren’t replying to your lawyers – someone with clout has told them not to.

          • craig Post author

            He was quite old, and came down with covid last November. He was either a brilliant actor or he really was very ill. He seemed old, sick and distressed. In contacting Northern Trust, we said that part of our concern was for his health and well-being, whatever had happened over the donation.

  • Adrian D.

    Desperately sorry to hear this and it does sound like you’re being singled out here for reasons others have commented on. BECTUs assertions about volunteers wildly misleading – a quick click on the ‘Stewarding’ link at the End of the Road website shows just one example where a deposit is required.

    I’m in Brighton with young kids so much as I would have loved to, I’ve never been able to get up to DTRB, but I’ve attended End of the Road every year since it started – which meant growing from around fewer than 5,000 to 10,000 attendees now with not much in the way of corporate advertising. I fear that your step up in size – while completely understandable – may have come at just the wrong time (cost of living etc). When EotR essentially doubled in size a few years ago there were many amongst us who felt it lost a lot of it’s charm and at least half of my friends stopped going. It sells out now, but it’s a different kind of crowd – all manageable for them – prior to CV19 & with the better English CV19 support – but I fear that your previous years size change may have put some of your previus attendees/regulars off before the new crowd had developed.

    Best of luck with all of ths Craig.

  • David W Ferguson

    My biggest take on this is how utterly poisonous the whole public sphere in Scotland has become under Sturgeon and her vile trash. Anything that is decent and worthy will be mercilessly hounded and destroyed.

  • Wally Jumblatt

    Those in power are getting more confident.
    They want ‘independents’ of all shapes and sizes -companies, organisations, political parties, free-thinking individuals all broken up and scattered, so that everyone ends up working for and dependent on, some supra-national corporation or other.
    The “you won’t own anything and you’ll be happy” is the true agenda -well the first part at least.

    I have no doubt this is a concert party specifically targeted to squash you, but amazed that the fools in charge are devoting such efforts to control us all. A war they cannot ever win in the long-term.
    Your wee festival couldn’t be a threat, but every wee festival could.
    Mind you, they print the money and don’t pay their bills. So they can prolong this for quite a while.

    They are attacking on all fronts-
    Taxation and hidden taxation
    Red tape
    Interest rates
    Social division
    Break-up of the family
    Freedom of movement
    Vaccination passports
    Captive media
    General brainwashing

  • Leslie Ross

    As someone who went to the 2019 event as a 60th birthday present (my only festival to date), It saddens me beyond words to see a festival with this unique ethos being forced into closure in such a vindictive and partisan fashion. Being critical of the establishment has obviously made you a prime target for this kind of organised abuse from the cancel culture and Scottish Government and their cronies.

  • X_Sticks

    Desperately, desperately sorry to hear of the loss of Doune. The last, and best independent festival. I had tickets and was really looking forward to attending again.

    Everything about this sad tale suggests it had more to do with punishing you personally than any of the financial difficulties recent events had caused the festival. I also suspect that it was a two-horned attack from both the british establishment AND the Scottish establishments. I guarantee if you had employed Jennifer Robertson to promote the festival things would have been very different, but then, you wouldn’t lower your standards as you actually have integrity.

    Huge thanks to you, Jamie and all the crew for what you have done for us over the years, Maybe if we can ever gain our independence Doune might rise like a Phoenix and continue to provide happiness and entertainment for us all. I can dream….

  • Alex Abel

    So sorry to hear this, Craig. My wife start a festival that was pulled because of the Queen’s death – it was incredibly deflating. Luckily, the next go was a big success. I have seen how much of yourself you have to put into events like this and feel for you and the other organisers. Horrible even without the malign campaign.

  • The Stiff Kitten

    I don’t care much for the author, his politics or his recent antics. As an independent event promoter of 20+ years though I see the ‘pile on’ that has occurred as being completely unfair hence why I find myself on this blog. The explanation surrounding the various decisions which has been set out above is reasonable albeit a bit misguided. I wouldn’t have done much differently myself. While there’s no doubt the situation has been used against the author by certain parties the idea that this is somehow part of a shadowy Unionist conspiracy is absurd. Much sympathy goes out the window when people start to trot out that guff.

    • Tom G Waits

      ” I see the ‘pile on’ that has occurred as being completely unfair.. ”

      So who is organising or ‘conspiring’ the “pile on”. then..?
      Something strange is very obviously happening.

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      ” there’s no doubt the situation has been used against the author by certain parties”
      Those certain parties would be keeping their identities and motives secret, i.e. they would be conspiring. What is it about unionists that makes it ‘guff’ to suggest that they might be among the ‘certain parties’?

      • Tom Welsh

        What is it about the “respectable” that makes their poisonous conspiracies legal and even praiseworthy?

        Let me know if you ever find out.

  • Heartsupwards

    I’m very sad about the death of Doune The Rabbit Hole (One). The vibe was great, the dog friendliness was great, the artists were invariably superb at their craft (I don’t care if they’re a big name or not, music is free, it’s the show that costs).
    The same family friendly festival can be created again without the need for big artists. What about offering the stage to up and coming bands who’ll do it for exposure only, and a free attendance to the festival. Make the festival to be about a charity. It’s been done successfully before (Cockermouth Festival 2006 was superb, young artists throwing their CD’s to the crowds (I’ve still got some) and raised money for Cumbrian Mountain Rescue).
    Doune The Rabbit Hole (Two), how about it. I suggest running a competition for budding artists from the camping area. I always found many to be talented and entertaining and it would attract those that need the extra incentive. No need for prizes, just the prestige and a laugh.

    • Dawg

      A free family festival sounds like a fine idea, except that lots of regulations would apply to any kind of mass event, entailing significant expenses and liabilities – and who’s gonna stump up for those, when there’s no prospect of remuneration? Not to mention that most musicians and crew are sick to the back teeth of being asked to provide their skills and time for nothing, by folks who wouldn’t sacrifice any part of their own pay packet for being entertained.
      The request could blow back badly. The Musicians Union has a scheme whereby people who ask musicians to work “for exposure” are named and shamed on social media. If Craig’s name got attached to it – well, you can imagine the headlines.
      These days it’s difficult even for reasonably well known acts to make enough cash to support recording and touring, never mind staying fed, sheltered and clothed. Sales of physical records have evaporated, and streaming offers such a negligible pittance that for most artists it isn’t worth claiming.

      Playing for exposure is only worthwhile in a strip club!

      • Heartsupwards

        My bad. I meant free attendance for the artists who play for free (attendance during the time they’re not performing.)

        • Dawg

          But isn’t that how festivals already work? Musicians don’t get charged to attend events they’re performing at. They also get passes for backstage access.

          If your proposal is only that artists wouldn’t get paid for their performances, while the punters are charged for entry, that’s the kind of exploitation which really irritates the MU. Musicians who agreed to those terms would be undercutting the main source of income for their fellow artists, and scabs like that don’t tend to be well regarded.

      • Tom Welsh

        I don’t very often cite Ayn Rand, but some of the things she wrote crystallise important truths in words that are impossible to better. A propos those masses of regulations, which permit government to stick its greedy fingers into almost any organised event for two or more people, I think she was spot on with this:

        “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with”.

        – Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”

        • Twirlip

          Another American book that looks relevant (I haven’t read it):

          Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent: Silverglate, Harvey: 9781594035227: Books
          “The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague. In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey A. Silverglate reveals how federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from the English common law tradition and how prosecutors can pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, for even the most seemingly innocuous behavior.”

      • Bayard

        “A free family festival sounds like a fine idea, except that lots of regulations would apply to any kind of mass event, entailing significant expenses and liabilities –”

        Yup, it’s called “barriers to entry”, always the weapon of choice wielded by the big organisations against their smaller competition.

  • SleepingDog

    Forgive my ignorance of such matters, but is this the kind of dispute usually resolved by an independent auditor of some kind? Presumably not one from the League of Evil Accountants. I suppose the contracts will have stated which party bore which proportion of risk, including insurance. Well, perhaps people will increasingly turn from AI-ripped-off music and return to live events.

    • glenn_nl

      … That he sought to blame trade unions, and by implication the very people who work so hard at the festival each year, was incredibly disappointing.

      That is truly a disingenuous statement. This shower actively worked to nix ticket sales, and then pretends that referring to this successful campaign is “blaming trade unions” and by extension the people. And this is ‘disappointing’. What unbelievable chutzpah.

      • Tom Welsh

        The attempt to identify “trade unions” with the “people who work so hard at the festival each year” (some of whom may be trade union members) is lazy and cynical.

        Acts and words attributed to a trade union are almost always the work of the union’s management and staff – professional entrepreneurs and bureaucrats who rarely have anything in common with the union’s members.

        It’s very unfortunate that the best attempt working people have yet made to resist exploitation and repression by white-collar managers has been to set up their own hierarchies of white-collar managers.

    • Andrew H

      On the face of it this statement from Bectu doesn’t seem unreasonable or disproportionate (or inconsistent with Craig’s own account). There are certainly no claims of impropriety. I’m not a fan of many unions since they are often adversarial with employers (instead of trying to see the business from the investors perspective). However, on this site, the mood is invariably pro-union and anti-business so it is somewhat inconsistent to see the mood swing when it affects one particular business. Why not also criticize the NUR and call them b*stards too?

      It’s very unfortunate when businesses become insolvent, and owners, as well as employees often lose out. This applies to both small and large businesses – so I do feel for Craig and many others that have invested their time and money in this festival. Statistics suggest about 75% of businesses become insolvent within the first 10 years – if a business is unable to build up a buffer (cash reserves) to take it through down cycles, then it is hard to survive in the long term (how many discount airlines went bust over the years? Covid, slow recovery and perhaps excessive optimism here were factors. (For a business to succeed optimism is required to take necessary risks, but if the risks are too high then reality can get in the way).

      • glenn_nl

        Why not also criticize the NUR and call them b*stards too?

        The NUR aren’t actively campaigning to put the festival out of businesses, are they?

        • Andrew H

          The hypocrisy of the socialist worker has no bounds. If you disagree then demonstrate some objectivity by listing several other cases (excluding bectu) where you feel a union has destroyed a viable business. What other unions besides bectu are b*stards?

          • Bayard

            “However, on this site, the mood is invariably pro-union and anti-business so it is somewhat inconsistent to see the mood swing when it affects one particular business.”
            Do try not to let your prejudices make you look stupid. This is quite obviously not about one particular business, it is about one particular union and their reprehensible actions. BECTU are bastards because they have destroyed a viable business. WTF has that got to do with any other union, or Socialism, for that matter? Even if no other union has acted in that way, that doesn’t make BECTU’s actions any better.

          • Andrew H

            The argument that this is the first and only time a union has acted against a business does not make sense. (It’s too coincidental.) It has everything to do with the ‘socialist worker’ (not socialist – I am a socialist, but not a ‘socialist worker’. Socialist workers are that fringe that stand around universities, or used to many years ago, handing out leaflets.). This is the breed of people who are so delusional about what socialism is that they are unable to put forward consistent arguments: such as: it’s illegal when US illegally invades Iraq (I agree), but just fine when Russia invades another sovereign country. Even Prigozhin says the reasons for invading Ukraine were a fiction (, yet the socialist workers in Britain continue to do mental gymnastics to justify the unjustifiable. Of course the socialist workers are not the only hypocrites in this world (Blair/Bush would be others).

    • pete

      I read the statement by Bectu: is it not weird that – on the one hand they requested a boycott of DOUNE – and now, on the other hand complain that the festival has been cancelled. Is that not the ultimate point of a boycott. They also claim they are a trade union, but judging by what the comments on them are it would seem to be some sort of rich lads’ social club. A gander on their website telling us about their “campaigns” does little to recommend them. Is it not time to boycott Bectu?

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