In His Own Words: Politics

Alan Ayckbourn has always be an apolitical writer and this reflects his now fundamental lack of interest in Politics. This can be seen in the fact that despite the vast number of plays he has written, only one actual MP features in all of his work: within Roundelay, the one act play The Politican features a sleazy MP who has a passion for prostitutes.

Whilst critics and writer have ascribed political leanings and messages to both him and his work, the writer has frequently stated he has neither political leanings nor any interest in writing about Politics. This page contains several quotes over the years regarding his thoughts on British politics.
"I'm not politically anything really. I just write about people as I see them." (1976)

"I'm usually against whichever government is in at the time, simply because it often seems so incompetent." (1976)

"Politicians drive me absolutely barmy. I'm an anarchist. I've sat through 15 General Elections and seen the same pattern going on every time. I used to vote. I voted alternately, Labour, Liberal, Conservative. I thought, one of them must be right. All of them were wrong. But this lot are worse than the last lot. The next lot'll be worse than this lot." (1980)

"What the extreme left and the extreme right have in common is absolutely no sense of humour. Perhaps I can spread a sense of balance through comedy. I don't think it will do very much. It's like throwing a bucket of sand on a forest fire, but it might serve to save a small proportion." (1982)

"My plays are full of politics. But please Good they remain hidden. They certainly have no party politics. I hate all politicians equally and mistrust them. I have never voted for any of them."

"Politics and politicians are after all, in a democracy, merely the symptoms of that society’s current disease. They neither cause it and rarely can they cure it." (1987)

"I remember the times when one assumed, for better or for worse, that politicians knew what they were doing and were doing what they were doing for the public good: they were there because they were the best people to do the job. But now the political thing has gone full circle. They are regarded as scoundrels the minute they put MP after their names. There is such a feeling of scepticism about them. It is now assumed that they are all on the make. The truth, I imagine, is that there are bent MPs who are there for the wrong reasons but there are still MPs who are there to do their best. The greyness people feel about them today is another reason why people no longer feel quite sure where they are." (1987)

"I never choose political themes for my work, I feel politics (party politics) have no special place in theatre. Well, let's say no more nor less than anything else has. Any activity of human existence should be reflected in theatre occasionally, so why not politics? Along with stamp collecting and vintage car rallying." (1990)

"Increasingly affected by the lack of the Arts, the Arts are something that most politicians pin on their lapels on special popularity seeking occasions. Though I suspect these days for Arts read Green." (1990)

"One writes about one's own particular area. I'm not religious, I have a distaste for politics and find relationships endlessly fascinating." (1992)

"I’ve always been very suspicious of people who are passionately like-minded, particularly when they form into some sort of organisation - be it a political party or a religious sect." (2012)

"I don't think that I've ever been a political writer, but I think I've been a social writer. I am interested in the world around me although I generally write about the domestic, so it's more the Jane Austen model of managing to reflect her times without having too much on the Napoleonic wars." (2014)

"I’ve been down to London to meet five arts ministers in my life - Labour ones, Conservative ones. And they all said the same thing. 'How are we going to make the theatre really work, Alan?' I said, 'Just put a bit more money into it.' They said, 'Yes, apart from that.' You can see them thinking, he’s got no solution. As long as theatre is not votes it’s always going to be that way." (2014)

“In retrospect I feel disappointed [about the EU Referendum]. I feel that the world should be coming together and it appears to be rapidly falling apart. But then if you are lucky enough to live long enough you are also unlucky enough to see the same bloody things happening." (2016)

"My characters have no politics because I don’t really.... I think - along with 99% of the country - I’m sick to death of it [Brexit]. It’s really put me off politicians. I mean I could write a very nasty play about politicians these days because I’m beginning to get angry. And that’s a good sign for a writer!" (2019)

I think I was born at a very lucky time if I wanted to be in theatre because the world smiled a lot more generously on the theatre. The Government formed things like the Arts Council which actually cared about theatre, not like it does these days." (2019)

"Politicians, by their behaviour and their flexibility with the truth, shall we say - be it Donald Trump or Boris Johnson - have lost the trust of quite a lot of people. The sort of people who laugh when you see an average interviewer asking, ‘what do you think of the politicians?’ and they laugh. There’s so much disillusionment." (2020)

And just for good measure, this is the contents of a letter on the subject written by Alan Ayckbourn on 5 April 1990:

i) I never choose political themes for my work.

ii) I feel politics (I mean Party Politics) have no special place in the theatre. Well, let's say no more no less than anything else has. Any activity of human existence should be reflected occasionally in the theatre, so why not politics? Along with stamp collecting and vintage car rallying.

iii) I find in general the political views of my fellow artists of whatever persuasion (and indeed those of my fellow human beings in general) send me immediately to sleep.
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd. All quotes are copyright of Haydonning Ltd and credit should be given to 'Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website' if reproduced.