Don’t Take Politicians So Seriously!

Private Eye

In the current climate of taking political debate over social media so seriously, it’s worth deflating our pompousness by hearing politicians over the ages mocking their profession*:

The Nature of politics

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it wrongly and applying unsuitable remedies. (Ernest Benn)

‘Politics’ is made up of two words: ‘poli’, which is Greek for ‘many’, and ‘tics’, which are bloodsucking insects. (Gore Vidal)

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other. (Oscar Ameringer)

When a politician is in Opposition he is an expert on the means to an end; and when he is in office he is an expert on the obstacles to it. (G.K. Chesterton)

He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career. (George Bernard Shaw)

Suppose you are an idiot. And you suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. (Mark Twain)

A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country (Texas gunman)

In politics stupidity is not a handicap. (Napoleon Bonaparte)

Government departments

Guidelines for bureaucrats: (1) When in charge, ponder. (2)  When in trouble, delegate. (3) When in doubt, mumble. (James H. Boren)

Britain has invented a new missile. It’s called the civil servant. It doesn’t work and it can’t be fired. (Walter Walker)

Give a civil servant a good case and he’ll wreck it with cliches, bad punctuation, double negatives and convoluted apology. (Alan Clarke)

Wars are popular. Contractors make profits; the aristocracy gleans honour. (Ramsay Macdonald)

the wit of winston churchill

The Admiralty [Navy] has demanded six, the Treasury said we could only get four so we compromised on eight (Winston Churchill on the finer points of defence procurement)

Winston has devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches. (F.E.Smith on Winston Churchill)

Nancy Astor: If I were you your wife I would put poison in your coffee.
Winston Churchill: And if I were your husband I would drink it.

He has the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought. (Winston Churchill on Ramsay Macdonald)

History will be kind to me for I tend to write it. (Winston Churchill)

Economics

You and I come by road or rail, but economists travel on infrastructure. (Margaret Thatcher)

Blessed are the young, for they will inherit the national debt. (President Herbert Hoover).

Unfortunately monetarism, like Marxism, suffered the only fate that for a theory is worse than death: it was put into practice. (Ian Gilmour)

There are two dead bodies on a motorway. One cat and one banker. There was very little difference between the corpses, except for skid marks around the cat. (Vince Cable)

If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion. (George Bernard Shaw)

It’s a recession when your neighbour loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours. (Harry S. Truman)

There are two kinds of chancellor. Those who fail and those who get out in time. (Gordon Brown)

Left vs Right

A Conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Conservative n. A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. (Ambrose Bierce)

A Conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time. (Alfred E. Wiggam)

Most Tories seem to think that ‘ethics’ a county near Middlesex. (John Prescott)

The typical Socialist is…a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings. (George Orwell)

Socialism is nothing but the capitalism of the lower classes. (Oswald Spengler)

The function of socialism is to raise suffering to a higher level. (Norman Mailer)

As usual the Liberals offer a mixture of sound and original ideas. Unfortunately none of the sound ideas is original and none of the original ideas is sound. (Harold Macmillan)

Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. (William Gladstone)

If God has been a Liberal, there wouldn’t have been Ten Commandments; there would have been Ten Suggestions. (Malcolm Bradbury and Christopher Bigsby)

If a Conservative is a Liberal who’s been mugged, a Liberal is a Conservative who’s been arrested. (Tom Wolfe)

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite. (John Kenneth Galbraith)

All I know is that I’m not a Marxist. (Karl Marx)

Man and Power

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to office. (Aesop)

When great men get drunk with a theory, it is the little men who have a headache. (Lord Salisbury)

Giving money and power to government is like giving whisky and car keys to teenage boys. (P.J. O’Rourke)

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. (Mark Twain)

The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer. (Henry Kissinger)

When a man says he approves of something in principle,  it means he hasn’t the slightest intention of putting it into practice. (Otto Von Bismark)

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. (Bertrand Russell)

Too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair. (George Burns)

As God once said, and I think rightly…(Margaret Thatcher)

My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you that I have signed legislation to outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes. (Ronald Reagan asked to say something to test a microphone before and interview presumably unaware he was being recorded).

The Media

I’m with you on the free press. It’s the newspapers I can’t stand. (Tom Stoppard)

The difference between burlesque and the newspapers is that the former never pretended to be performing a public service by exposure. (I.F. Stone)

Governments always tend to want, not really a free press, but a managed and well-conducted one. (Lord Radcliffe)

Television has made dictatorships impossible, but democracy unbearable. (Shimon Peres)

I read the newspapers avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction. (Aneurin Bevan)

Every sane and sensible and quite thing we do is absolutely ignored by the press. (Bertrand Russell)

Freedom of the press in Britain means freedom to print such of the proprietor’s prejudices as the advertisers don’t object to. (Hannen Swaffer)

How is the world ruled and how do wars start? Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read. (Karl Kraus)

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws. (Douglas Adams)

The politician

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)

I humble enough to recognise that I have made mistakes, but politically astute enough to have forgotten what they are. (Michael Heseltine)

Men enter local politics solely as a result of being  unhappily married. (C. Northcote Parkinson)

A politician is a person who whose politics you don’t agree; if you agree with him he’s a statesman. (David Lloyd George)

Bilal

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