Alan Bennett blasts Boris Johnson in 2021 diary

Playwright criticised the prime minister’s friendliness towards Donald Trump and his decision to give out peerages to ‘umpteen millionaires’

Ellie Harrison
Wednesday 22 December 2021 15:46
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<p>Alan Bennett </p>

Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett’s annual chronicling of his life for the London Review of Books this year sees the author and playwright criticise Boris Johnson.

In the diary, published today (22 December) in the LRB, Bennett dedicates Rudyard Kipling’s poem, A Dead Statesman, to the prime minister.

The poem reads as follows: “I could not dig: I dared not rob: / Therefore I lied to please the mob. / Now all my lies are proved untrue / And I must face the men I slew. / What tale shall serve me here among / Mine angry and defrauded young?”

In his March entry, the History Boys writer also criticised how “with his customary foresight and good judgment, one of the first acts of the current prime minister was to hasten to the side of President Trump”, and how the former speaker of the house, John Bercow, was the one who ruled out Trump addressing parliament in 2017.

“His reward was to be refused the customary peerage on retirement by the prime minister, who happily doled out peerages to umpteen millionaires, all of them donors to the Tory party,” wrote Bennett. “And so we go on.”

Boris Johnson

In September, Bennett compared Rory Stewart, who was in the Tory leadership contest in 2019, to Johnson. Bennett said he had read Stewart’s account of his time in Iraq, Occupational Hazards.

He wrote: “It is hard to imagine this man, however briefly, as MP for Penrith and a contender with Boris Johnson, but on this evidence alone he would have been a sounder dealer with our intractabilities and a more honest one.”

In his diary, Bennett also discussed his struggle to get a haircut in February and his reading habits.

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