Why Conservatives have learned not to voice their opinions at literary festivals

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<span>Photograph: Alamy</span>
Photograph: Alamy

Zoe Williams is quite right about the participants at literary festivals and their political monoculture (I’m sure rightwingers read books. But you’ll never meet one at a literary festival, 17 May). It isn’t that rightwing, centrist or apolitical people don’t read books, but that in the main they do not self-describe as intellectuals, so are less likely to attend such gatherings; perhaps more significantly, it is a disconcerting experience being an outsider when, as Williams says, the audience is very keen to establish its leftwing credentials.

Perhaps if more people in the audience thought of the festival as a place to meet authors and learn about the art and craft of writing, rather than a place to bask in the virtue of caring more than those nasty Tories, festivals might become more culturally and politically inclusive.
David Shipley
Harpenden, Hertfordshire

• I was appalled by Zoe Williams’ article. I think I am regarded as “rightwing” (whatever that means), but I go to all the festivals in Cheltenham (science, food and literature). I also go to the Hay festival and various other cultural events around the country, read the Guardian and voted for Brexit.

What many people like Williams and other leftwingers preaching to us don’t understand is that many of us have learned to keep our opinions to ourselves, because if we state or even proffer them in discussion we get shouted down, silenced or, worse still, cancelled. We are the silent majority, we are at literary festivals, and are why we have had a Conservative government for 12 years – and Brexit. That’s what the majority voted for.
Richard Free
Broadway, Worcestershire

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