Friday, December 29, 2006

New Book of Political Quotations

Over the next few days I will be compiling a book of Political Quotations, which will be published in the Spring by Harriman House. It will be a collection of 500 of my favourite quotations and I'll be dividing it up into sections like Prime Ministers, Conservatives, Socialists, Liberals, Insults & Put Downs, Witty, Inspirational etc. If there are any quotations you would like to contribute to the book, which you find particularly incisive, please do leave them in the Comments. I'm especially interested in quotations made in the last ten years. Is it just me, or has political rhetoric become less memorable recently?!


Anonymous said...

Suggest you have a section on "broken promises"

Bliar could probably provide 500 of those on his own.

Anonymous said...

Gordon Brown confirms his political treachery with this classic exchange:

Andrew Marr:
“So to be absolutely clear, you didn’t know about the letter, you didn’t know,”

The tortured response was echt Gordon :
“No, as I say, during the course of this week there were so many rumours, letters, meetings, all sorts of things.”

Anonymous said...

How about Bliar saying

I'm a straightforward sort of guy!

Anonymous said...

Sadly Nuke Labour beat me to it!!

Praguetory said...

"Judas was paid! Judas was paid! I am making a sacrifice!" or "Yes, I am a virus. I am the virus that kills socialists." or "a politician complaining about the media is like a fisherman complaining about the sea."

Enoch Powell

Anonymous said...

J Reid
Not fit for purpose
There must be any number of bliar quotes about how Saddam had WMD????
and a treasure trove of bull from Prezza too!

Little Black Sambo said...

No it's not just you. Parliament is half-full of illiterates.

Anonymous said...

.....I feel the hand of history"

A Blair after saying it was no time for sound bites on the Northern Ireland talks.

See also Greg Knight MP various books for Tony Banks quips.

Anonymous said...

maggie thatcher fan:

"The international community must not stand by while a regime that proliferates weapons of mass destruction defies more than a decade's international agreements."
Gordon Brown 2003

Anonymous said...

Gordon Brown 2003:
"Our armed forces do an outstanding job for Britain and today I make clear our gratitude for the work that they do and my resolve to ensure our armed forces are properly supported for whatever lies ahead,"

2006:"Unforgivable body armour delay caused soldier's death says coroner",,1974940,00.html

Anonymous said...

"Today is not a day for soundbites but I feel the hand of history on my shoulder". Or something similar when Blair was talking about the Good Friday Agreement.

"He was the future once" - David Cameron

Something like "This grammar school boy won't take any lectures from that public school boy" - Michael Howard

William Hague must have come up with some good ones during his time as Leader of Opposition.

Anonymous said...

"We are now entering the post-democratic age" - Peter Mandelson

Not sure of original source, but I think it is referenced in Oborne's 'The Rise of Political Lying'

BJ said...

My favourite William Hague gag ever: "He's got Frank Dobson to be the day mayor, and Ken Livingstone to be the nightmare!"

(Or words to that effect. You ought to check it...)

Anonymous said...

'Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking'

Of all he said and wrote, these should be the bloggers' motto.

Who? J.M. Keynes, my hero.

Anonymous said...

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

Donald Rumsfeld

Anonymous said...

From Robin Cook's resignation speech March 2003:
"We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat."

Anonymous said...

Hnery Porter wrote some excellent stuff this year, here he castigates his colleagues for selling us short over id cards and the loss of civil liberties:
":the media's record is so poor on this issue. The newspapers for the main stayed away from the subject of civil liberties. There have even been contributions from a couple of columnists - in the Times and Guardian - who have briskly exclaimed they do not understand what the fuss is about. These are people who do not think of themselves as journalists but as quasi non-governmental policy makers. They affect responsibility by flattering authority and they do not represent out interests."

Anonymous said...

Surely 'badger watching' has now joined 'Ugandan discussions' and has provided a suitable euphemism for MPs not of the distaff persuasion?

Anonymous said...

Some of my recent favourites...

"The green belt is a Labour achievement and we intend to build on it." - John Prescott

"[Geoff Hoon] and I agreed it would fuck Gilligan if that turned out to be the source." - Alastair Campbell on the naming of Dr David Kelly.

"From fascination to admiration to disillusion to contempt." - William Hague on the trajectory of public attitudes towards NuLab.

...and farther back

"Of course, this does not mean that the pound in your pocket or purse or wallet has been devalued." - Harold Wilson on the 1967 devaluation of the pound

"I do not think other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos." - Jim Callaghan during the 1979 Winter of Discontent, translated by The Sun as "Crisis? What crisis?"

"I have the privelege to be the first Liberal leader in fifty years to be able to say to this Assembly: go back to your constituencies, and prepare for government!" - David Steel, Llandudno, 1981.

James Higham said...

Ah Bushisms allowed? I have heaps of those.

Anonymous said...

"Whilst you ministerial responsibility you do not have ministerial knowledge"

John McFall, Labour chairman of the Commons Treasury Select Committee's withering criticism of Dawn Primarolo , Paymaster General.

stalin's gran said...

Of course I will Iain. Anything to help. Send me a tenner though, won't you?

Anonymous said...

Robert Harris on Brown's failed coup:

"it is clearly Brown who was ranting and demented. At one point he apparently threatened Blair with a second, third and even a fourth “wave” of resignations, for all the world like Osama Bin Laden ordering up cells of suicide bombers from his cave in Tora Bora."

"All one seems to have heard for the past week — admittedly I write as an Englishman — is Scottish accents, as Brown’s supporters were deployed across the airwaves: Wednesday’s edition of Newsnight, in particular, was like an episode of the White Heather Club."

Anonymous said...

Simon Hoggart: "Caroline Flint, once the most egregious greaser in the Commons"

Anonymous said...

Mr. Atlee is a very modest man, but then, he has a great deal to be modest about.

Winston Churchill.

Anonymous said...

George W.

Most of our imports come from abroad.

Anonymous said...

For a section on put-downs, the below is a recent classic - and all the more so since Eric died soon afterwards. Campbell was two months off his 65th birthday at the time.

Sir Menzies Campbell: "The Prime Minister will remember that six years ago the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, South-West (Alistair Darling) then the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, now the Secretary of State for Transport, told the House that his Department should give accurate and complete information about pensions."

Eric Forth (from a sedentary position): "Declare your interest!"

(Hansard, 15 March 2006)

Anonymous said...

I'd advise looking up some of the lines produced by former New Zealand PM David Lange.

Also there's a good one from Jim Bolger, another of our former PMs: "Bugger the pollsters"

Anonymous said...

Not forgetting Brown's pithy "post neo-classical endogenous growth theory".

Anonymous said...

'You can't fool all of the people all of the time, but do it once, and you're in for five years' Neil Hamilton, quoted in Gyles Brandreth's Breaking the Code

'Splendid! Splendid! Carry on!' Willie Whitelaw's reply to a prisoner telling him that he was serving life for murder

'Mr Wilson is going up and down the country stirring up complacency'
Wilie Whitelaw

'The trouble with the French is that they have no word for entrepreneur' George W Bush

'I know mankind and the fish can co-exist peacefully' George W Bush

'I know how hard it is to put food on your families' George W Bush

'He says I'm dyslexic! He didn't say that when I interviewed him!'
George W Bush complaining about a reporter

'You don't want to listen to this bullshit, let's go off and get pissed' Foreign Secretary George Brown at a particularly tedious reception

'Do you fuck?' 'Minister, you must get your face slapped a lot'
'Yes, but I also get quite a few fucks'
George Brown's conversation with a woman sitting next to him at a diplomatic dinner

'A shitty little bastard' John Prescott on John MacGregor

'The diplomacy of Alf Garnett, and the economics of Arthur Daley' Denis Healey on Thatcherism

'But how do the birds know it's a bird sanctuary?' Sir Keith Joseph

'A wonderful mixture of Rasputin and Tommy Cooper' Denis Healey on Sir Keith Joseph

'Satan's bearded folk singer' The late Linda Smith on David Blunkett

'Not as nice as he looks' Winston Churchill on Ian Mikardo

'The honourable gentleman knows what dirty dogs do to palings' Winston Churchill on being called a dirty dog by a Labour MP with the surname Paling

'Economics is like pissing down your leg. It may feel hot to you, but it doesn't to anyone else' Lyndon Baines Johnson

'He knows as much about NATO as much as an old maid knows about fucking' LBJ

'That Senator does for legislation what pantyhose does for fingerfucking' LBJ

'The trouble with Gerald Ford is that he played football without a crash helmet' LBJ

'Gerald Ford is so dumb he can't fart and chew gum at the same time' LBJ

'There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe' Gerald Ford

'I don't worry about the deficit, it's big enough to look after itself' Ronald Reagan

'I'm too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh' Adlai Stevenson after the 1952 US presidential election

'One in four Englishmen is a homosexual' Edith Cresson

'George Brown drunk is better than Harold Wilson sober' The Times

'This Monty Python - is he one of us?' A bemused Mrs Thatcher, after agreeing to the inclusion of the 'dead parrot' joke in her 1990 conference speech

'We have to choose between a drunk and a crook' Tony Crosland's verdict on the 1963 Labour leadership contest

'How can I respect a man who plays golf?' Tony Crosland's verdict on Harold Wilson

'Fuck off!' Tony Crosland's reply to Roy Hattersley's offer to tell him why he wouldn't vote for Crosland in the 1976 leadership contest

'I thought Marquand was going with you?' Denis Skinner's reply to Roy Jenkins' statement that he was leaving for Brussels 'without rancour'

'Not so much a deathbed repentance, as a post-mortem repentance' J Enoch Powell's verdict on Sir Keith Joseph's conversion to monetarism

'Britain is a conservative country which occasionally votes in a Labour government' Reginald Maudling'

'Of all the Balkan atrocities, perhaps the greatest' Disraeli's verdict on Gladstone's pamphlet on the Bulgarian atrocities

'Cheerio old cock, sorry to leave things in such a mess' Reginald Maudling to his successor, James Callaghan, the day after the 1964 General Election

'He's gone from rising hope to elder statesman without any intervening period whatsoever' Michael Foot on David Steel

'The Dolly Parton School of Economics - an unbelievable figure, bloated out of all proportion, with no obvious means of support' Kenneth Clarke

Anonymous said...

It's not from the last ten years but the Scottish Conservative MP Noel Skelton coined the phrase 'property-owning democracy' in 1923, much quoted ever since by Anthony Eden, Margaret Thatcher and, most recently, by David Cameron.