Monday, 12 October 2015

Some British political quotations

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'It can feel ridiculous to talk of the British sense of fair play. What is Britain? Scotland is half gone. Northern Ireland is a world apart and the English don’t know who they are. As for fairness, where can you find it in a country where every species of charlatan and loudmouth flourishes? But like rocks at low tide, the national sense of fair play can emerge to wreck the ambitions of those who would sail over it. The presumption of innocence, sympathy for the underdog and a respect for impartial public services don’t emerge often enough. When they do, they are devastating and Labour’s deputy leader [Tom Watson] has rammed into all three.' Nick Cohen, Observer, October 11, 2015
'A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy.' Benjamin Disraeli 
'If there were no criminals there would be no need for the police. If there were no socialists or liberals there would be no need for conservatives. Lord Lawson of Blaby
'I rank myself no higher in the scheme of things than a policeman - whose utility would disappear if there were no criminals.' Lord Salisbury
'If there is a class war—and there is—it is important that it should be handled with subtlety and skill. ... it is not freedom that Conservatives want; what they want is the sort of freedom that will maintain existing inequalities or restore lost ones.' Maurice Cowling, "The Present Position", in "Conservative Essays", 1978, ed. Michael Portillo.
I remember this cumbrous sentence shocked me when I read it in 1980 as a sixth-former. I still do not believe in class war and do not think Conservatives should fight one but I do believe in inequality and hierarchy as good things, not necessary evils. And if a class war is being fought, as it was in the 1970s, I suppose Conservatives have to fight back. 

'It seemed to me singularly ill-contrived for the British government to be going to war with Hitler when Hitler might have been about to attack the Russians, and even more ill-contrived that, when Hitler did attack the Russians, he had already defeated the French army. What I'm saying is that the war shouldn't have been started in September 1939...from the point of view of Britain, the war was really not a good thing and I would regard it as, in effect, a defeat.' Maurice Cowling, interviewed in Naim Attallah, "Singular Encounters" (1990),
His friend Enoch Powell always disagreed, in 1939 and until his death.
'The world has recently been treated for nearly a decade to the unusual spectacle of a great empire deliberately taking every possible step to secure its own destruction, because its citizens were so obsessed by prejudice, or incapable of thinking for themselves, as never to perform the few logical steps necessary for proving that they would shortly be involved in a guerre à outrance, which could be neither averted nor escaped.' Enoch Powell, inaugural lecture to the University of Sydney, as Professor of Greek, 7 May 1938

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