Londoner’s Diary: Laurie Penny drops a bomb on The Critic magazine in pronoun row

·4-min read
 (Getty Images for TBS)
(Getty Images for TBS)

AUTHOR Laurie Penny has criticised Right-wing magazine The Critic as “rude and childish” for failing to use their preferred pronouns. A review by Julie Bindel of Penny’s new book Sexual Revolution: Modern Fascism and the Feminist Fightback repeatedly referred to Penny as “she”.

Penny’s publishers Bloomsbury asked that Penny be referred to as “them/ they”. The Critic refused to make the change, instead adding a reference to the request at the foot of the review.

Penny told us: “It’s rude, and it’s childish — and it shows how flimsy the quality of debate… has become. They want to think of themselves as cool and edgy… it would be nice to see them engage with the actual arguments I’m making.”

Publisher of The Critic, Olivia Hartley, told us: “The Critic exists to push back against a self-regarding and dangerous consensus that finds critical voices troubling, triggering, insensitive and disrespectful.

“The point is not provocation or trolling… we would not expect any of our contributors to have change their language to suit the ever-changing beliefs of other people “.

Paddington star to bear all in memoir

MR BROWN meets Little, Brown — actor Hugh Bonneville has teamed up with the publisher to write a memoir. “From getting his big break as Third Shepherd in the school nativity play, to navigating Highclere Castle’s complex Labrador policies,” the publishers say of the Downton Abbey and Paddington star’s book, which promises to answer some of life’s great questions: “What is it like working with Judi Dench and Julia Roberts, or playing Robert De Niro’s right leg, or not being Gary Oldman, twice?”

Craig: Mr Bond, I expect you to die

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

DANIEL CRAIG nearly did what no villain ever could: kill Bond. “I wanted to kill him off a long time ago, in Casino Royale, for all sorts of reasons,” the now former Bond actor confesses. “One purely egotistical, which was that I felt like I needed to end what I did on it, and that I would only be satisfied if I could walk away and there was nowhere else for that to go,” he added to Variety. A little possessive...

Raab gets in a Byzantine tangle

DOMINIC RAAB is in the bad books of esteemed historian Peter Frankopan. When we asked Frankopan, a historian of the Byzantine Empire and author of bestseller The Silk Roads, about an online claim that the Byzantines were largely ignored, he agreed. Frankopan revealed: “I used to have a Google alert every time the word ‘Byzantine’ gets used in Parliament by MPs but had to turn it off as it pinged so often. Dominic Raab is a particular offender in using the word ‘byzantine’ to describe over-elaborate tax codes and legislation.”

Frankopan continued: “That tells me that he does not know much about the Byzantine Empire; the fact the empire survived more than 1000 years suggests that perhaps it did things really rather well, rather than being a lazy by-word for superficiality, obfuscation or a feckless lack of interest in foreign affairs – something that no one would accuse Raab of, presumably.”

Remedial classes for the deputy Prime Minister.

Rayner’s not-so-candid camera moments with Keir

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

AS leader and deputy of the Labour party, Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner see a lot of each other — but not as much as they might. Rayner told a live recording of Matt Forde’s Political Party podcast last night that she often attends remote Zoom shadow cabinet meetings with her camera off, due to a trauma-induced cataract from a childhood accident which makes looking at a screen painful. When Forde asked if Starmer ever requests that she put the camera on, Rayner said no. “I really can’t see Keir saying, ‘I want to see more of you, Angela’,” she replied drily.


BORIS JOHNSON is in trouble for having an alleged birthday party with cake in Downing Street in June 2020. Just a few days ago, his sister Rachel said on LBC: “At his birthday, it was me, my three brothers, Carrie and Wilf. That was six people.” Which party was she talking about? Perhaps her cake party invite was lost in the post.


 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

SIR Ian McKellen has invited Sue Gray to take centre-stage… at the Park Theatre in Finsbury. The actor suggested on the Today progamme this morning that the civil servant investigating No 10’s alleged parties join the celebrity cast of improvised murder mystery play Whodunnit 2: “She might be a very good solver of problems.”

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