Hay vs Edinburgh
24th June 2005
Thank you for recognising my reluctance to compare the size of the Hay and Edinburgh literary festivals (Cultural tourist, July), but I must leap to the defence of the Guardian. Hay shifted 130,000-odd tickets this May. Edinburgh estimates 100,000 tickets for 2004. The figure of 207,000 visitors you quote measures the number of times a counter on the front gate of Charlotte Square’s tented city is triggered. As it counts entrances and exits, and most people arrive several times, you need to adjust your analysis. And then perhaps you can recognise the real point: that the most popular literary gatherings in Britain are in Scotland and Wales, not in England. I think, incidentally, that both these events are considerably bigger than our sister gatherings at Toronto, Parati, Mantua and Adelaide.
Less than 10 per cent of the Hay audience have London postcodes. Ninety per cent of the media attendees, however, do come from London. Perhaps that’s why the metrocentricity you describe seems so strong.
Director, Hay festival
Not so rosy in Tanzania
27th June 2005
Jonathan Power (July) suggests that Tony Blair should cross Tanzania off his worry list. He should do no such thing, and thankfully all signs indicate that he is actually very worried.
Power says that Tanzania’s future is bright, provided it can get through the elections in October peacefully. That is a very big “if.” When the opposition CUF declared its intention to stage peaceful demonstrations in the event of another stolen election, President Mkapa warned that he would not hesitate to order the security services to take all steps to deal with troublemakers. Tony Blair sent his Africa minister David Triesman to Zanzibar in June because he is worried that another member of his Africa Commission will crack down on legitimate opposition and leave blood on the streets. He has every reason to be.
Former Lib Dem adviser