Robert Harris wrote in the telegraph in 2002
“I’m not trying to be snooty about this. I can’t remember whether I’ve ever actually used it myself, but I’ve certainly used plenty of quotations like it – aphorisms that fall into a particular category: just above the out-and-out cliche and just below the level of something genuinely apt and unfamiliar.
I always know when I’m using one, because I generally find myself introducing it with the adverb “famously”, as in: “As X famously observed . . .”, a formulation that serves the useful function of signalling that I know what follows is fairly hackneyed, but – what the hell? – I’m going to use it anyway, in the hope that not too many people will notice.
I’ve not bought a souvenir mug or planted a memorial tree, but it strikes me that one useful way of marking the Golden Jubilee might be to avoid, say, 10 historical and political quotations that are too often used by columns such as this.”
Let’s take the Queens Golden Jubilee as our starting point and try this.
12:01AM BST 04 Jun 2002
Every writer and reader will no doubt have their own particular favourites that they’d be grateful never to hear again, but these are mine:
1) “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs” – Enoch Powell on Joseph Chamberlain.
For Election 2017 this has to be the Nick Clegg Sheffield Hallam Moment.
2) “There are three bodies no sensible man directly challenges: the Roman Catholic Church, the Brigade of Guards and the National Union of Mineworkers” – Harold Macmillan (also attributed to Stanley Baldwin)
These days this needs updating somewhat, Tim Farron had his own date with religious over political positions but the Star of this election has to Be Jeremy Corbyn and his head on Clash with Neo-Liberalism which infects all parts of the Political Elites across the “Free Market” Political Thought collective.
25 APRIL 2017
Jeremy Corbyn has attracted “socialism fans”, not Labour voters
The leader’s project is to transform the Labour party, not win elections. Writes Daniel Allington in the New Statesman on the eve of the 2017 Campaign.
“In America, he says, ‘what the Occupy generation chose to do was to occupy the Democratic party and that’s effectively what [we] have chosen to do here: to occupy the Labour party. … We, on the left of the party, didn’t want this fight. But it’s like what General Sherman said in the American civil war: “You’ve chosen war. We’re going to give you all the war you can take” …I want to lay waste to the whole neoliberal hierarchical tradition that Blairism and Brownism represented’.”
3) “In the long run we are all dead” – John Maynard Keynes.
The dementia Tax Debacle has to be the event best contained within this aphorism.
4) “I’d rather take advice from my valet than from the Conservative Party Conference” – Arthur Balfour.
This one has to go to the May Dynamic Duo of Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill
5) “Socialism is what a Labour Government does” – Herbert Morrison.
The Many Not The few Struck a Chord with the electorate, this Morrison truism rediscovered.
6) “Not while I’m alive ‘e ain’t” – Ernest Bevin, on being told that Morrison was “his own worst enemy”.
There are plenty of entries for this one The Knives have been out for Mr Corbyn and Lately for Mrs May. Even before the Grenfell Tower Corporate Murder Tragedy, Mrs May had been broadsided by George Osbourne the Chancellor She Sacked, Here he is in the Dead Woman Walking interview.
7) “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” – de Gaulle.
This accolade has to go to Mrs May and for the peerless DUP fiasco.
8) “Is it better to be loved than feared, or the reverse? The answer is that it is desirable to be both, but because it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer for a prince to be feared than loved” – Niccolo Machiavelli.
On This one the Wooden Style of Mrs May and the Human caring style of Jeremy Corbyn contrasted will have to suffice, what is surprising in all of this is how irrelevant Boris Johnson seems to be?
9) “Treason is a question of dates” – Talleyrand.
This one has to be about the Saudi Arms Deals the Blowback aspects of the Manchester Arena and London Bridge Terrorist murders and the question mark over Mrs Mays time at the Home Office where Syrian and Libyan Intrigues of MI5 and MI6 were barely kept from the front pages of even the neo-liberal Establishment Media.
10) “It is worse than a crime, it is a blunder” – Anotine Boulay de la Meurthe, on hearing of the execution of the Duc d’Enghien by Napoleon.
No question about this one in the context of events dear boy events. The Grenfell Tower Corporate murders will not only End Theresa Mays incompetent premiership it should also put the Neo-Liberal EU on notice that their evil ideology has been laid bare, Atlas may indeed have Shrugged and the Road to Serfdom may have appeared to be rounding the last few bends in the long road but now the secret is laid bare, Magic Money Tree and all.
These are all, in their different ways, excellent quotations – epigrammatic or wise or cynical. They are certainly not as cliched as “I don’t know what effect these men have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me”, as Wellington is usually misquoted, or Lady Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as Society”.