"Every age refights the Civil War in its own way and ours is no exception. Roundhead and Cavalier, Whig and Tory, Gladstone and Disraeli, Labour and Conservative, each conflict is an echo of the original.
Every age has its own Cromwell, the man repainted, regilded, forged, twisted to suit some current purpose. The historian Isaac Foot, father of Michael, said that he judged a man by one thing, 'On which side would he have fought at Marston Moor', the King’s or Parliament’s.
The pendulum of politics long ago stopped swinging from Left to Right, now being stuck on Right. But it always swings from Roundhead to Cavalier. It swings from the authority of democratic institutions, defended ceaselessly and sometimes bloodily, to the corruption of over-centralised power."
        - Simon Jenkins, "The London Times"

"Politics? Boring? Politics is history on the wing! What other sphere of human activity calls forth all that is most noble in men's souls, and all that is most base? Or has such excitement? Or more vividly exposes our strengths and weaknesses?"
        - Cicero, in "Imperium" by Robert Harris

People once blamed or thanked God for everything that happened beyond their control. Now we blame or thank Government instead.
        - Peter Hitchens, "The Express"

There has seldom been a time when responsible, intelligent people were less interested in serious politics.
        - Peter Hitchens, "The Spectator"

Is Osama bin Laden left-wing or right-wing? How about Robert Mugabe? Who has a more left-wing approach to women’s sexuality: Pope John Paul or Hustler magazine? Consider Fidel Castro. He persecutes homosexuals, crushes trade unions, forbids democratic elections, executes opponents and criminals, is a billionaire in a country of very poor people and has decreed that a member of his family shall succeed him in power. Is Castro left-wing or right-wing? Explain your answer.
        - Andrew Kenny, "The End of Right and Left", "The Spectator"

It is easy to say "the parties are no different" or "things couldn't get any worse." People have
said that before — and have been proved wrong before. Before the election of 1860, abolitionists
said it would make no difference whether Lincoln or a Democrat was elected. But millions of
people were freed because that prediction was wrong. In Germany, the Weimar Republic was nobody's
idea of an ideal government and, in the desperate days of the Great Depression, no doubt many
German voters thought that nothing could be worse. But they discovered during the dozen years of
Nazi rule just how much worse things could be.
        - Thomas Sowell


Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
        - Sir Winston Churchill (attributed)

What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?
        - Abraham Lincoln

The Conservatives should never disregard political and social reform, but if there is any lesson to be learnt from history, I believe it is that the party cannot expect to win success by outbidding the radicals. This merely muddles the Conservative Party's traditional supporters and it does not actually capture the radical vote.
        - Lord Robert Blake

Many revolutions are begun by conservatives because these are people who tried to make the existing system work and they know why it does not.
        - John Maynard Keynes, "Essays in Persuasion"

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
        - Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

I feel an insuperable reluctance in giving my hand to destroy any established institution of government, upon a theory, however plausible it may be.
        - Edmund Burke

There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact.
        - Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Conservative"

"Conservatives measure the effectiveness of government programs by results; liberals measure the effectiveness of government programs by inputs."
        - Karl Rove

If you want government to intervene domestically, you're a liberal. If you want government to intervene overseas, you're a conservative. If you want government to intervene everywhere, you're a moderate. If you don't want government to intervene anywhere, you're an extremist.
        - Joseph Sobran (1995)

"I dream of the day when conservatives learn the difference between a sin and a crime and liberals learn the difference between a virtue and a requirement."
        - William A. Niskanen

"The central psychological proposition of liberalism is that for every problem there is a solution... it faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth... became a political culture that rewarded the articulation of moral purpose more than the achievement of practical good... having the ability to immediately dissolve every statement of fact into a question of motive."
        - Daniel Patrick Moynihan, selected quotes

This nonsense is typical of a certain breed of liberals who refuse to debate facts when they can demean motives.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "The National Review"

"There's nothing liberal about the Left except on two issues: personal sex activity and personal drug use. On everything else they are totalitarians."
        - David Horowitz

A liberal is one who says that it's all right for an eighteen year-old girl to perform in a pornographic movie as long as she gets paid the minimum wage.
        - Irving Kristol, "Two Cheers for Capitalism"

"Liberals are people who think that being tough on crime means longer suspended sentences."
        - Ronald Reagan

Not being a liberal, I have very little grasp of things that I know nothing about.
        - PJ O'Rourke

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western civilization as it commits suicide.
        - James Burnham

The great advantage that conservatives have over liberals is that we are bilingual. We can speak our language and we also know theirs. They however even now still don’t know ours and cannot be bothered to learn.
        - John Podhoretz

Conservatism is the political belief that best mirrors human nature across time and space; but because its precepts are sometimes tragic and demand responsibility rather than ever-expanding rights, it requires adept communicators.
        - Victor Davis Hanson

"The facts of life are conservative."
        - Margaret Thatcher

The word "conservative" is used by the BBC as a portmanteau word of abuse for anyone whose views differ from the insufferable, smug, sanctimonious, naive, guilt-ridden, wet, pink orthodoxy of that sunset home of the third-rate minds of that third-rate decade, the nineteen-sixties.
        - Norman Tebbit, former Conservative Minister

Politics does terrible things to words. Once flung into the public arena, they are bruised, battered and twisted until they end up meaning the opposite of what they started out meaning, if they still mean anything at all. Something even ghastlier can happen when one innocent word is yoked to another - "national" to "socialism" or "democracy" when it has "people’s" jammed in front of it. "Neoconservatism" is this season’s noun in the mangle.
        - Ferdinand Mount reviews Irwin Stelzer's "Neoconservatism" for "The Times"

I long for a political leader who can rescue the word 'liberal'... It should not mean spending lots of public money, or being soft on crime, or denigrating marriage. It means believing in freedom — a free economy, a free (independent) country, trial by jury, a smaller state, choice in health and schools, no ID cards, a bicameral legislature with real powers. Freedom is not the only thing a nation needs, but it is the necessary start.
        - Charles Moore, "The Spectator"

One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring. It is liberals who advocate "forgiveness" of loans to third-world countries, a "living wage" for the poor and a "safety net" for all. But these are all government policies — not individual acts of compassion — and the actual empirical consequences of such policies are of remarkably little interest to those who advocate them. What are the facts? People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes. It is not that conservatives have more money. Liberal families average 6 percent higher incomes than conservative families.
        - Thomas Sowell

The conservative movement constitutes an alliance of those who accept unchangeable facts rather than trying to wish fantasy into reality, remake human nature, or avoid economic tradeoffs. Traditionalists embrace timeless morals, even when they deny one immediate gratification. Libertarians embrace the sovereignty of consumer demand and the sometimes-disorienting effects of technological change, even when the result isn’t to one’s personal liking. And hawks embrace the reality that America lives in a dangerous neighborhood, one full of bullies, pirates, and fanatics who respond to gestures of good will with contempt, larceny, and brutality.
        - John Hood, "National Review"

"Liberals are builders and conservatives are defenders. Liberals want to build a good and just society. Conservatives defend what is already built and established. This is what the left and the right are for. What draws a person to one or the other is more a matter of personality than anything else...
Defenders, unlike builders, are on the lookout for threats. This is what conservatism is for. In the absence of civil war or revolution, threats exist abroad. Canada isn’t a problem, and Mexico isn’t really either. The biggest threats are on the other side of the world. Conservatives don’t write about China and Iran because they’re into Taoism or because they swooned at the Persian film festival. The interest is there because these countries are dangerous...
Liberals are more likely than conservatives to study the negative consequences of American foreign policy. But that’s about it. If you want to find a person who knows the history of pre-war Nazi Germany, the Middle East during the Cold War, or the partition of India and Pakistan, you’re better off looking to the right than to the left. Conservatives are more likely to study pre-war Nazi Germany because they’re watching out for a repeat."
        - Michael J Totten, "Builders and Defenders"

In 1964, political psychologists Lloyd A. Free and Hadley Cantril famously asserted that Americans were ideologically conservative but operationally liberal. Americans loved Barry Goldwater’s rhetoric about yeoman individualism, but not if it meant taking away their Social Security checks or farm subsidies. “As long as Goldwater could talk ideology alone, he was high, wide and handsome,” Free and Cantril wrote. “But the moment he discussed issues and programs, he was finished.” ...Liberals have an inherent advantage. As long as they promise incremental, “pragmatic” expansions of the government, voters generally give them a pass. And every new expansion since FDR and the New Deal has created a constituency for continued government largesse... "Liberals sell the welfare state one brick at a time, deflecting inquiries about the size and cost of the palace they’re building,” wrote William Voegel.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

Patriotism is merely the devotion to a set of ideals, rooted in history, and attached to a specific place. To a certain extent patriotism is conservatism, in the same way that being a Christian involves some level of conservatism. It is a devotion to a set of principles set forth in the past and carried forward to today and, hopefully, tomorrow. Christianity, as I understand it, holds that the perfect world is the next one, not this one. We can do what we can where we can here, but we’re never going to change the fact that we’re fallen, imperfect creatures. And while Christianity may be a complete philosophy of life, it is only at best a partial philosophy of government. Any ideology or outlook that tries to explain what government should do at all times and in all circumstances is un-conservative. Any ideology that sees itself as the answer to any question is un-conservative. Any ideology that promises that if it were fully realized there would be no more problems, no more trade-offs, no more elites, and no more inequality of one kind or another is un-conservative.
The simple fact is that conservatives don’t have a settled dogma. How could they when each faction has a different partial philosophy of life? The beauty of the conservative movement is that we all get along with each other pretty well. The chief reason for this is that we all understand and accept the permanence of contradiction and conflict in life.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "What is a Conservative", "National Review"

Jonathan Chait begins by restating his argument that "conservatives believe that smaller government is an end in itself, because it promotes freedom. Liberals, on the other hand, do not see bigger government as an end in itself. Therefore, on economic policy, liberals are much more interested in what works than are conservatives." I will concede that most liberals don't see the hammer (bigger government) as an end, but they do have a well-deserved reputation for bringing a hammer to every problem and saying "Hey, will this work?" Jonathan sees a man willing to pound a broken vase with a mallet and says, "Aha! A pragmatist!"
        - Jonah Goldberg, in an 'opinion duel' with Jonathan chait, "National Review"

International fascism drew from the same intellectual wellsprings as American Progressivism... The edifice of contemporary liberalism stands on a foundation of assumptions and ideas integral to the larger fascist moment. Contemporary liberals, who may be the kindest and most racially tolerant people in the world, nonetheless choose to live in a house of distinctly fascist architecture
        - Jonah Goldberg, "Liberal Fascism"

"Conservatism is the negation of ideology."
        - H. Stuart Hughes

Those Conservative values, which we abandon at our peril, are a belief in the maximum freedom for individuals, a recognition that wickedness should be countered by discipline, not therapy, and an acceptance that the price of progress is a patchwork world. A belief in freedom is the beginning of my politics. Buried in my soul, at a level too deep to surrender, is my passionate dislike of coercion, conformity and collectivism. I think the inherent dignity of humans depends on the free exercise of their will, and efforts to curtail, corral or conscript for the sake of a greater good not only stifle the human spirit, but also generally fail to achieve the good proclaimed. To my mind there is a beauty in the quirky, the eccentric, the divergent, which one never sees in uniformity. And underpinning my conviction is the knowledge that progress, from Socrates through Galileo to Václav Havel, has depended on the defiance of consensus, on those who dare to be Daniels.
       - Michael Gove, Conservative MP, in "The Spectator"

The durability of Conservatism has depended, to a great extent, on it being a disposition rather than a philosophy. What marks Conservatives out, across the generations, and whatever the environment they operate in, is an attitude of mind rather than an adherence to dogma. And that disposition — sceptical, cautious, pragmatic, sensitive to the local and the particular — has been politically successful because it has been in tune with human nature.
        - Michael Gove, "The Spectator"

Conservatism is about responding prudently to scarcities, of resources and virtue.
        - George Will

"My theme is not a creed or a doctrine, but a disposition. To be conservative is to be disposed to think and behave in certain manners; it is to prefer certain kinds of conduct and certain conditions of human circumstances to others; it is to be disposed to make certain kinds of choices... The general characterisitics of this disposition are not difficult to discern, although they have often been mistaken. They centre upon a propensity to use and to enjoy what is available rather than to wish for or to look for something else; to delight in what is present rather than what was or what may be. Reflection may bring to light an appropriate gratefulness for what is available, and consequently the acknowledgment of a gift or an inheritance from the past; but there is no mere idolizing of what is past and gone.
...To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss. Familiar relationships and loyalties will be preferred to the allure of more profitable attachments; to acquire and to enlarge will be less important than to keep, to cultivate and to enjoy; the grief of loss will be more acute than the excitement of novelty or promise. It is to be equal to one's own fortune, to live at the level of one's own means, to be content with the want of greater perfection which belongs alike to oneself and one's circumstances."
        - Michael Oakeshott, "On Being Conservative"


A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship.

- Alexander Tyler, "The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic" Democrats have historically tended to attract those who felt themselves in some way marginal to the American experience: slaveholders, indebted farmers, immigrants, intellectuals, Catholics, Jews, blacks, feminists, gays — people who identify with the "pluribus" in the nation’s motto, "e pluribus unum." As the nation weakens, Democrats grow stronger... Each party has performed important services in its historical role. Democrats have historically shown greater skepticism about the nation's image of itself as always right, always innocent, always pure. This skepticism is often justified and useful even when mistaken.
        - David Frum, "Comeback"

The Democratic Party is the party of this form of popular corruption...
(but) Alexander Tyler was overly cynical and unduly pessimistic. Over the last several decades, a party has arisen in American politics that is anti-big government and that, despite tacks and retreats, is committed to an agenda of reducing government's ability to reach into the peoples' pockets in pursuit of its insatiable greed. The modern Republican Party is the creation of Ronald Reagan, who dramatically reduced marginal tax rates in 1982, and Newt Gingrich, whose 1994 "Contract with America" imposed balanced budgets over determined Democratic resistance.

"I like open minds, but I think in Washington right now, we might as well start painting those people red and blue."
        - Dennis Miller

"Didn't you wonder why you were getting checks for doing absolutely nothing?"
"I figured because the Democrats were in power again."

- The Simpsons We always hire Democratic Congressmen who promise to give us from the government all the things we want. And we always hire Republican Presidents to make sure we don't have to pay for it. Sometimes I feel like we're living in a Wizard of Oz democracy - if the Republicans only had a heart, the Democrats only had a brain, and an Independent only had some courage. - Patrick Freeman Republicans want a big army, so they never have to use it. Democrats want a small army, but want to send it everywhere.

        - Anon

Republicans are politicians and politicians promise to do things but conservatives are people who — ultimately — explain why many things shouldn’t be done. As Hayek noted, 'conservatives' in America are defenders of liberty because we wish to conserve those institutions that keep us free.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

"You need me Springfield. Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside, you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals and rule you like a king!"
        - Sideshow Bob, "The Simpsons"

In America billionaires vote Democratic, mere millionaires vote Republican.
        - Irwin Stelzer, "The Telegraph"

Republicans are the sort of peole who wouldn't stop to help you fix a flat tire, for fear of being late to "ugly pants night" at their Country Club. Democrats are the sort of people who would stop and help you fix the tire, but end up blowing up your car.
        - Dave Barry

A big political stink erupts over adding drug benefits to Medicare, with Republicans and Democrats battling fiercely to see who can pander the hardest to the crucial senior-citizen voting bloc without letting the other voting blocs figure out how much they will have to pay.
        - Dave Barry reviews 2003

"You have the support of all right-thinking Americans."
"That’s not enough, I need a majority."
        - Adlai Stevenson, Democratic Presidential candidate, and a supporter, 1952

"If you give me a week, I might think of one."
        - President Dwight D Eisenhower, asked about VP Richard Nixon's useful contributions

The only thing the Democrats have to offer is fear itself.
        - Dick Armey

Nixon has a fascinating reputation as one of the most right-wing presidents of the 20th century. This impression is largely a product of the fact that few presidents have been more hated by the Left. But simply because the left despises you doesn't mean you're particularly right-wing. If LBJ were alive, you could ask him about this. Or just take a look at poor Joe Lieberman. The truth is, Nixon was the last of the New Deal-era liberal presidents.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

I have only one firm firm political belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat. ...God is an elderly stern fellow. ...God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club. Santa Claus is another matter. He's always cheerful, and he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.
        - PJ O'Rourke, "Parliament of Whores"

My Grandmother wouldn't even speak the word Democrat if there were children in the rooom, she'd say Bastards instead.
        - PJ O'Rourke, "Republican Party Reptile"

Why are you a Democrat? Are you a Democrat because you're a union member? Then why, after eight years of Bill Clinton, does some Chinese guy in Guangdong province have your job? Are you a Democrat because you're a woman? Then how come you're married to a Republican? Most women are. Face it, you were afraid that a two-Democrat family might cause the kids to grow up to be liberals. Are you a Democrat because you're gay? Come on, do you really think Republicans hate gays? You've been to Republican houses. Do they look like they were decorated by Pat Robertson?
Are you a Democrat because you're part of a minority group? Forget about it. Mexicans, Blacks, Jews, Italians, Irish, Puerto Ricans - you guys hate each other. Become Republican and at least you'll be allowed to admit it - after three drinks.
        - PJ O'Rourke, "An Open Letter to the Other Party"

Why should it be that two parties with few if any essential differences are ready to speak of each other as if a cultural or even a civil war were only a few speeches away? Obviously, much of this fatuous rhetoric arises from the need to disagree more and more about less and less, to maintain the mills of fundraising in a churning condition, and to keep the dwindling groups of genuine loyalists and activists in a state of excited pseudo-commitment.
        - Christopher Hitchens, "Thinking Like an Apparatchik", from "The Atlantic"

"I'll be back.  You can't keep the Democrats out of the White House forever. And when they get in, I'm back on the street!  With all of my criminal buddies!"
        - Sideshow Bob, "The Simpsons"

"If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican! If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican! If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican!"
        - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, speech at 2004 Republican National Convention

According to the Pew Center, the less you like to fly the American flag, the more likely it is you are Democrat. The more you think hard work and personal initiative aren’t the ticket to the good life, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. The more you believe the United Nations is a better steward of international relations, while America is a negative actor on the world stage, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. The more you believe that the government is there to help, the more likely it is you are Democrat. The less seriously you take religion, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. Flip all of these values around and the more likely it is you are a Republican — or that you vote that way. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this study is what it says about class and ideology in America. And what it says is that they don’t have that much to do with each other, which runs contrary to generations of leftish stereotypes. Poor Americans who believe in the American ideal of by-your-bootstraps success are likely to vote Republican. And rich Americans who cringe at the idea of hanging a flag from their porch vote Democrat.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"


We only have to be lucky once. You have to be lucky every time.
         - IRA Threat to Margaret Thatcher, after a failed assassination attempt

"I am not a consensus politician — I'm a conviction politician."
        - Margaret Thatcher

"You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning."
        - Margaret Thatcher

"If you are guided by opinion polls, you are not practicing leadership, you are practicing followership."
        - Margaret Thatcher

"Where there is discord may we bring harmony, where there is error may we bring truth, where there is doubt may we bring faith, and where there is despair may we bring hope."
        - Margaret Thatcer quotes St Francis of Assisi on becoming Prime Minister, 1979.

"The Labour Party believes in turning workers against owners; we believe in turning workers into owners."
        - Margaret Thatcher, 1987.

"We should back the workers, not the shirkers."
        - Margaret Thatcher

"Greens are like tomatoes. They start off Green, but always turn out Red."
        - Margaret Thatcher

"Unless we change our ways and our direction, our glories as a nation will soon be a footnote in history books, a distant memory of an offshore island, lost in the mists of time, like Camelot, remembered kindly for its noble past."
        - Margaret Thatcher, speaking in 1979

"We have been ruled by men who lived by illusions."
        - Margaret Thatcher

"We Conservatives changed Britain for the better. And we helped change the world, bringing liberty to millions who’d never known it. Moreover, let’s admit it, we changed our opponents, at least on the surface, and so made them electable. But we didn’t, and we couldn’t, make them believers in liberty and champions of enterprise."
        - Margaret Thatcher, Plymouth Speech, 2001

Thatcherism was a bit like an operation for varicose veins: we’re probably better off for having had it, but it wasn’t pleasant, fun or an experience you want to repeat.
        - AA Gill, "The Times"

In trying to arrest Britain’s long-term decline, Thatcherism may well have sometimes pushed the political pendulum too far in the opposite direction to its post-war swing. But self-interest is different from selfishness, which is itself different from greed. No politics can succeed if it is not based on self-interest, that most basic of human desires. How self-interest can be directed to promote the public good lies at the very heart of policy.
        - Frank Field, "The Spectator"

The Thatcherite argues that being one’s own master — in the sense of owning one’s own home or disposing of one’s own property — provides an incentive to think differently about the world. The Thatcherite, whilst not believing that patterns of ownership absolutely determine people’s moral attitudes, nevertheless stresses that the two are connected, and sees in wider individual ownership a means of promoting moral attitudes Thatcherism seeks to cultivate.
       - Shirley Robin Letwin, "The Anatomy of Thatcherism" on 'ownership society'

Margaret Thatcher is the great unsung hero of British feminism, who just by being there, by doing it, showed women what was possible. Her mistake, if you can call it that, was to deny lesser women the chance of making easy excuses for their own shortcomings.
        - Eilis O'Hanlon, explaining 'feminist' hostility to Thatcher, "The Irish Independent"

There can be no compromise on fundamental principle.
        - Jack Lynch, holding the line during the Arms Trial

If I happened to be dead, it would have been very difficult for anyone else to deal with the allegations against me.
        - Dessie O'Malley, on his defence of his conduct in the Arms Trial

I stand by the Republic, and I will not oppose this bill.
        - Dessie O'Malley, last speech before expulsion from FF party for 'conduct unbecoming'

Some people take a negative view of my career, that I was always opposed to things. But I am not ashamed of that, there are things that it is necessary and worthy to oppose. Some people's greatest achievements are not the things they did, but the things they stopped from happening.
        - Dessie O'Malley

The main victims of socialists are the very people that socialists claim to represent.
        - Michael McDowell

You promise you will spend a pound; then, you tell them you are spending it; finally, you tell them you did spend it. That way, you get to spend every pound three times.
        - Donogh O'Malley, former Fianna Fail Minister

I am now slowly coming to terms with the fact that what I regard and realistic and radical the left calls right-wing. Being labelled right-wing is a damn sight better than being lumped in the bankrupt alliance of convenience that is the left. I'm proud of it because the right is the new left. It is where the radicals, the defenders of freedom, stand these days. It is where freedom of speech thrives, where debate happens, where progress happens and where truths, however uncomfortable, get an airing. Most importantly, right now, radical realism is against tyranny.
        - Brendan O'Connor, "The Irish Independent"

As it happens, I wasn't being particularly right-wing that day.
        - Brendan O'Connor, "The Irish Independent"

The people have wearied of mainstream politics, period. They have wearied of the suffocating, stultifying battle to command the favour of a minuscule tranche of the electorate and the concomitant absence of ideology (a dread word, I know) or principle. They have wearied of spin and counterspin replacing, as instruments of political persuasion, conviction and belief. If you doubt this, take a look at the last council and Euro elections or, indeed, the elections in May 2003. The turnout was at its highest where the BNP or UKIP stood a chance of electoral glory. In other words, people flocked to the polling stations in order to vote for, or against, political parties that offered a genuine choice, unpalatable though their platforms may have been. People became, I suppose you could say, energised by the prospect of real debate, a debate shorn of an obsession not to offend or disquiet the 800,000 or so lower-middle-class voters who the pollsters assure us will determine the outcome of the next election.
        - Rod Liddle, "Forty Per Cent of Nothing", "The Spectator"

'Apathy' is the word always applied to modern voters, but it seems a bit unfair. It is rather a rational sense that the difference between the likely winners is not overwhelming, and that what you, as an individual, can do about the result is limited.
        - Charles Moore, in "The Spectator"

In 1979 the public agreed with the Tories that Labour wasn’t working. The problem, for both Labour and the Conservatives, in 2004, is that the public believe that politics isn’t working. The sense of disconnection that many people feel towards the political establishment is a direct consequence of the lack of control voters now have over the areas for which politicians are supposed to be responsible. In those spheres of life in which politicians have got out of the way, from budget flights to commercial television, control lies in our hands, with a simple click giving instant effect to our various wishes. But in those huge areas in which governments take responsibility on themselves, and increasing sums out of our pockets, such as policing, schools and hospitals, our wishes are treated as just one factor among many which may, just may, be given due consideration. And the closer one gets to the political ground, the more profound is the sense of powerlessness.
        - Michael Gove, "The Times"

A book about the failures of the Left in the last 28 years could have been very much longer than this one. The success of Mrs Thatcher’s revolution was such that it made her, and her immediate heir, ultimately redundant. The ordinary political positions put forward by the mainstream of Labour policy as recently as the 1983 election have been abandoned to the point where they are only believed in a very few mad rumps. Wage control policy, exchange controls, direct political power exerted by the trade unions, state ownership of airline companies and car manufacturers (let alone ‘the commanding heights of the economy’, as they used to say) all these have long ago gone into the bin. We are all effectively Thatcherites now. So what on earth does it mean to declare oneself of the Left these days? The Left has been kept going by a sense of the tribe, of membership of a gang which has nothing to do with economic or social policies... The peculiar mentality (...of the Left is...) the assumption of virtue... Given a world where leftists would have preferred Saddam to have remained in power and where they denied there was anything much wrong with Milosevic, what does it mean to refer to yourself as left- or right- wing?
        - Philip Hensher, reviewing "What's Left?", "The Spectator"


Wealth is, for most people, the only honest and likely path to liberty. With money comes power over the world. Men are freed from drudgery, women from exploitation. Businesses can be started, homes built, communities formed, religions practiced, educations pursued. But liberals aren't very interested in such real and material freedoms.
They have a more innocent, not to say toddlerlike, idea of freedom. Liberals want the freedom to put anything into their mouths, to say bad words and to expose their private parts in art museums. At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child - miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic, and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.

The original intent of the Founding Fathers was to annoy today's liberals.

        - Seth Lipsky

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

A neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. There aren't any liberals left in New York. They've all been mugged by now. A liberal is one who says that it's all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a pornographic movie as long as she gets paid the minimum wage. Somehow Liberals have been unable to acquire from birth what Conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth: namely, a healthy skepticism of the powers of government to do good. Tolerance turns into ferocious hatred of those who have stated clearly and most forcefully that there are unchangeable standards founded in the nature of man and the nature of things. "How can the modern relativist exercise tolerance if he doesn't believe in anything to begin with? It is not hard to exhibit toleration toward a point of view if you have no point of view of your own with which that point of view conflicts." New Age Liberalism was in essence nothing more complicated or noble than a running argument with life as it was led by normal Americans. Tyrrellism : the technique of blackening an opponent's reputation by quoting him. Viewed as vulgar. THE LIBERTARIAN WAY

Liberals want the government to be your Mommy. Conservatives want government to be your Daddy. Libertarians want it to treat you like an adult.

- Andre Marrou There may be two libertarians somewhere who agree with each other on everything, but I am not one of them. The difference between libertarianism and socialism is that libertarians will tolerate the existence of a socialist community, but socialists can't tolerate a libertarian community. Law is extremely important in a libertarian society. You don't have many laws in a libertarian society, but those laws that you do have, you take very seriously. This country is a one-party country. Half of it is called Republican and half is called Democrat. It doesn't make any difference. All the really good ideas belong to the Libertarians.
        - Hugh Downs, 1997.

No conservative should commit to a policy without first consulting the libertarian position. Indeed, once conservatism forgets to ask, "Should the government really be doing this?" it will have ceased conserving what is best about conservatism.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"


"All political careers end in failure."
        - Enoch Powell

"The people have spoken, the bastards."
        - Concession speech by California State Senate candidate Dick Tuck

"You won't have Nixon to kick around any more."
        - Richard Nixon

Great armies, faced with the confusion of battle, were told to "march to the sound of guns." In contrast, today's political armies often "steer to the sound of applause. That is, when confronted with Matthew Arnold's "darkling plain, swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night," they turn to polls for guidance.
        - Michael Gove, "The London Times"

"I must follow them for I am their leader."
        - Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, allegedly spoken whilst observing a passing mob in 1848

"I cannot indeed take it upon me to say that I have the honour to follow the sense of the people. The truth is I met it on my way, while I was pursuing their interest according to my own ideas."
        - Edmund Burke, addressing the House of Commons

A post-intellectual society is one where public relations substitutes for public policy, where one mass-media image can wipe out many careful arguments, where sound moral character means feeling good about yourself, and the increase of freedom means more consumer choices. It is, finally, a society where intellectuals are very comfortably kept thinking about what they are told to think about. I suppose the biggest difference in the past 30 years is that the intellectually gifted now have so many more places to sell out. Freshmen with any smarts at all now arrive at universities eager to become commodities.
        - Richard Lee

It's in the nature of all politicians to want to be liked by as many people as possible. What distinguishes a statesman from the common run, however, is what he is willing to be disliked for.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

"A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman of the next generation."
        - James Freeman Clarke

"Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship."
        - James Russell Lowell

Nations don't always rise to the occasion. And the next generation can pay a great price when the preceding one shirks its responsibilities.
        - William Kristol, "Time Magazine"

Some campaigns are not worth waging if you can't win; others have to be fought on grounds of principle regardless of the chances for success.
        - Patricia Ireland, political activist

I heard one poll statistic cited in so many news stories that I started to wonder if the number of journalists quoting the poll was beginning to exceed the number of people actually surveyed.
        - Alan Rivlin, Peter D. Hart Research Associates.

If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, the price of participatory democracy is constant tedium.
        - Minette Marrin, "The London Times"

"The average citizen expends less disciplined effort on mastering a political problem than he expends on a game of bridge."
        - Joseph Schumpeter writing in 1950

A citizen who cannot be bothered to find out the facts about the issues, not just media spin or party propaganda, is doing a disservice to this country by voting — especially when electing leaders making life-and-death decisions whose consequences will affect this generation and generations to come.
        - Thomas Sowell

When television first came on in the early ’50s during the Eisenhower campaign, I said, "Now we can look the creature in the face while he’s lying to us, and we’re going to be able to tell." And I was wrong as I could be. The man is packaged on television for you to look at, and you can be fooled very badly. The result is, in an election, I no longer vote for the man, I vote the party.
        - Shelby Foote

(1) Do not talk about process. People want to hear about results.
(2) It is not enough to oppose. Voters expect you to propose. "No" cannot be your primary answer.
(3) Don’t tell people what you want. Ask them what they want.
        - Frank Luntz's rules for political candidates, "The Spectator"

"The aim of oratory is not truth but persuasion."
        - Thomas B. Macauley

"The most obvious strategy for an Opposition is to tell the public that it would do things differently. Sometimes, that suffices to get the party elected. Once it is in government, it has to consider not only whether the policies on which it has won office are practical, but even whether the party itself really believes in them."
        - Michael Portillo, former Conservative Minister, "The London Times".

"The key feature of this election campaign has been a clever use of what professionals call 'dog whistle politics'. A dog whistle is pitched so high that dogs hear it but humans do not. Dog whistle politics involves pitching a message to a particular group of voters that other voters do not hear. John Howard wanted One Nation voters back. He also saw a chance to attract some traditional 'blue-collar' Labor voters with similar concerns. The Tampa episode provided him with the dog whistle he needed."
        - Laurie Oakes, commentating on the 2001 Australian election in "The Bulletin"

"I don’t ask what people’s politics are. I ask what their principles are."
        - Chistopher Hitchens

"One mark of a self-confident political mind is its willingness to take opposing arguments seriously."
        - Andrew Sullivan

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
        - John F. Kennedy

The key to success in politics is choosing your predecessor.
        - Bruce Reed, "Slate Magazine"

Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power is derived by a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!

- Monty Python point out the flaws of King Arthur The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them. - Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) Do not fear your enemies. The worst they can do is kill you. Do not fear friends. At worst, they may betray you. Fear those who do not care; they neither kill nor betray, but betrayal and murder exists because of their silent consent. - Bruno Jasienski The politician's prayer is: 'May my words be ever soft and low, for I may have to eat them'.

        - Lord Norman Lamont, former Conservative Chancellor

Any party which takes credit for the rain must not be surprised if its opponents blame it for the drought.

- Dwight Morrow For forms of government let fools contest; Whate'er is best administer'd is best. For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
        - Alexander Pope, "Essay On Man"

Ideology, which regrettably has become a pejorative term, defines that set of ideas that we each believe explains how the world works and therefore how we need to act to achieve our goals. Some of our views of causative forces are rational, some are otherwise. Much of what we confront in reality is uncertain, some of it frighteningly so. Yet people have no choice but to make judgments on the nature of the tenuous ties of causation or they are immobilized. I do have an ideology.
        - Alan Greenspan

Dogma has a terrible reputation these days, but it is actually vital to a free society because dogma establishes the boundaries of legitimate debate and action. Most people can't offer a rigorous defense of free speech or private property; they just know these are important things for a free society. Well, that's dogma. Indeed, dogma means "seems good."
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

Those who say they dislike dogma, or 'certainty', tend to be liars, hypocrites, or simply wrong. What they really dislike is the dogma of those they disagree with. A society that was certain, certain beyond all certainty, that putting its citizens in death camps was wrong, would never put people in death camps. Such things are only possible when you're open to new ideas.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "An open mind is a dangerous thing"

At the end of the day, arguments must stand on their own merits, regardless of who delivers them. There are war heroes who oppose the Iraq war, and there are war heroes who supported it. John Keegan is the greatest living military historian, and he never saw a day of battle. George McGovern flew 35 combat missions in World War II. I'll take Keegan's guidance on military matters over McGovern's any day.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

William Jennings Bryan was a champion of free silver, he unapologetically admitted that he didn’t know much about economics. “The people of Nebraska are for free silver and I am for free silver,” he proclaimed. “I will look up the arguments later". The American constitutional order, on the other hand, recognizes democracy as a qualified good, necessarily tempered by republican and constitutional safeguards. As the heirs to classical liberalism, American conservatives in particular have long emphasized the importance of individual rights even when they come at the expense of what “the people” want. Most populist movements have contempt for mechanisms which dilute or delay people power.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

Huge numbers of Americans don’t know jack about their government or politics. According to a Pew Research Center survey released last week, 31 percent of Americans don’t know who the vice president is, fewer than half are aware that Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House, a mere 29 percent can identify 'Scooter' Libby as the convicted former chief of staff of the vice president, and only 15 percent can name Harry Reid when asked who is the Senate majority leader. And yet, last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that two-thirds of Americans believe that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s firing of eight U.S. attorneys was 'politically motivated'... This is a column about how confused and at times idiotic the United States is about polls, public opinion and, well, democracy itself... The days when politicians would actually defend small-r republicanism are gone. The answer to every problem in our democracy seems to be more democracy, as if any alternative spells more tyranny.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "The Will of the Uninformed", "National Review"

If I told you that Ned Kelly died because a platform gave way beneath him, it would be factually true, but you would wrongly conclude that it was an accident. If I added that he had a rope around his neck at the time, you would correctly conclude that he had been hanged. Facts can be fitted to almost any agenda. For anything near the truth we not only need all the facts, but we need the facts fitted into their proper place. And that means a narrator without an agenda. No such neutered political animal exists.
        - Eoghan Harris, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"

It is only about things that do not interest one that one can give a really unbiased opinion; and this is no doubt the reason why an unbiased opinion is always valueless.
        - Oscar Wilde

Any partial step towards the goal is inherently morally imperfect, and yet morality cannot be approximated without it.
        - Henry Kissinger

In the end, every political dream must collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.
        - Matthew d'Ancona, "The Telegraph"

I used to look down on the world for being corrupt, but now I adore it for the utter magnificence of that corruption.

- Richard J. Needham The ways of God and government and girls are all mysterious, and it is not given to mortal man to understand them. - Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough For Love" So what difference is there between our voters and wielders of franchise in the past? Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage. - Robert A. Heinlein, "Starship Troopers" Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders. - Frank Herbert, "Children Of Dune" One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. - Plato "About forty percent of the people vote Democrat. About forty percent vote Republican. Of those eighty percent, most wouldn't change their votes if Adolf Hitler was running against Abe Lincoln—or against FDR...That leaves twenty percent of the people who swing back one way or another...the true independents...That twenty percent controls the destiny of the country."
        - Tom Clancy, "Executive Orders" (submitted by DM Foley)

In political discussion heat is in inverse proportion to knowledge.

- Anon "What do you want to be a sailor for? There are greater storms in politics than you will ever find at sea. Piracy, broadsides, blood on the decks. You will find them all in politics."

        - David Lloyd George

To be a Nazi is not a political standpoint, and thus tolerable. It is a moral one, and insupportable.

        - David Bennun

It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.

- Voltaire It's a recession when your neighbour loses his job; it's a depression when you lose your own. - Harry S. Truman Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable. - John Kenneth Galbraith The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters. - Jean-Paul Kauffmann All government, indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. - Edmund Burke Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but unlike charity, it should end there. - Clare Boothe Luce A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. - Dwight D.Eisenhower Treason, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. - Garak, "Second Skin", Star Trek DS9 This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read. - Winston Churchill The central problem of politics: Do you paint simplistic pictures that make people act (and leave them with too simplistic a view of the world) or do you paint baffingly shaded and contingent scenes that leave people paralysed by indecision? - Brian Eno There are only two kinds of politician in modern fiction. The out-and-out rogue, à la Francis Urquhart, or the politician as fathead, as in Yes, Minister. If only there were a Trollope or a CP Snow to catch us as we actually are, in all our imperfections.
        - Andy McSmith, "Innocent In The House"

"Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation."
        - Henry Kissinger

I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the first two thousand people on the faculty of Harvard University.
        - William F. Buckley

Nowadays there is a school of cartoons that depicts ordinary politicians who have come to power in an open, democratic tradition as weird, putrefying monsters. They look as though they have fallen out of ridiculous horror films. All blood-flecked, claws and fangs. It is a topsy-turvy world in which the freer the society, the more grotesquely its politicians are caricatured.
        - Nicholas Garland, "Great Political Cartoons", "The Telegraph"

"Politicians aren't normal people and they've never lived normal lives - but the media expect them to exemplify normality defined as heterosexual monogamy."
        - John Dugdale, "The Times", reviewing Edwina Curries' "This Honourable House"

"Iain Duncan Smith is right. There is a plot against the Tory leader. But that’s about as far as Duncan Smith’s credibility in the matter goes, for there is always a plot against the Tory leader. It’s the natural state of affairs. The only surprising thing is that he should have found this to be anything out of the ordinary."
        - Michael Dobbs

"When you are in opposition, if you're trying to dislodge a government that has presided in a time of economic boom, it's not enough to just be there. You have to have something to say. Even if it's empty rhetoric. The traditional thing to do when in opposition is to make a feint to the left, to throw some radical shapes. It always works. However, that's out of fashion today. Any party trying a left-wing pose would be stomped on by the media gurus who know everything; the new liberalism that cannot tolerate disagreement with its own ideology."
       - Gene Kerrigan, "The Irish Independent"

Somehow, the New York Times and the Washington Post find the “right-wing” to be far more interesting and noteworthy than “left-wing.”  Since 1996, the Washington Post has used this loaded term more than twice as frequently as “left-wing.” References to “right-wing” increased in even-numbered election years when the political stakes were higher – 73.2% of the “-wing” references compared to 67.5% in non-election years. This disparity was even more palpable at the New York Times, where 80.2% of the left-right mentions on the national news pages since 1996 have spotlighted the right. The research also found that the more loaded and derogatory the phrase, the more likely it was to be associated with the political right. The term “conservative” outpolled “liberal” by 66-34% in New York Times news page mentions, while the aforementioned “right-wing” clocked in at 80% in a similar measure. However, the term “right-wing extremist” was used at least six times as frequently than “left-wing extremist” (at 87.4% since ’96 in the Times).
        - Patrick Ruffini, "Liberal Bias In The Media"

Being so much a selection of facts from an infinitely complex reality, [news] can never achieve objectivity or impartiality, and hence any accusation of bias can only be one partisanship attacking another.
        - Kenneth Minogue, "The Silencing of Society"

You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God! the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there's no occasion to.
        - Humbert Wolfe, "The British Journalist"

After 10 years of economic growth... Mr. Blair has managed to get himself roundly, fundamentally, panoramically hated at home. He’ll leave office well and truly loathed. Loathed, mocked and despised. Hey ho, but he’s in good company. Margaret Thatcher was as viscerally hated at home as she was warmly respected abroad. Churchill himself, consistently voted Greatest Englishman Ever in popularity polls, was precipitously voted out of office at the first opportunity, even before the Second World War had actually finished, to be replaced, as he’d described it, by a modest little man, with much to be modest about. Mind you, Clement Atlee was in turn kicked out at the next election, having given the nation the foremost socially splendid political years of the century, including the welfare state, nationalized utilities, nuclear defense and independence for India. There’s no pleasing the British, or winning their favor. They simply hate politicians. All politicians. Hatred goes with politicians like mint sauce with lamb. It’s as old as Parliaments. The Duke of Wellington, vanquisher of Napoleon, most respected and regarded man in Europe, a 19th-century Eisenhower, foolishly allowed himself to be made prime minister and became instantly reviled. He was once assaulted by a mob on Waterloo Day, and another time a crowd broke every window in his home, a house that, incidentally, a grateful nation had just given him... The difference between British politics and American is that you maintain a collective respect for the office, if not the holder. So the presidency is a venerable thing, even if the president is a cretin. And every president leaves office with his title. He will always be Mr. President, a peculiarly regal touch for a republic. But when he wakes up on Thursday, the prime minister will be plain Mr. Blair, M.P... No British TV company could ever make a series like “The West Wing” about British politics. It would beggar credibility. No one could write it with a straight face, or perform it without giggling. All our homegrown political dramas are black comedies and ironic, vicious satires.
        - AA Gill, in "The New York Times"

Peter Oborne is sceptical of the political consensus. In "The Triumph of the Political Class", Oborne – the former political editor of The Spectator — has condensed his criticisms into a thesis. In the late 19th century, Britain was ruled by a "class of benign and above all disinterested administrators", such as Gladstone. In the 20th century, universal suffrage brought about ideologically opposed political parties that drew on popular support. (In the 1950s, the two main parties both had memberships in the millions; now they would be lucky to manage half a million between them.) Our rulers came from many backgrounds: Ernest Bevin left school at 11 to become a farmhand; Alec Douglas-Home was an aristocrat. Over the past 25 years there has been a profound transformation of British political life. Politicians now emerge from the same pool of political degree courses, think tanks, special adviser jobs and the media. Few have business experience. Almost none has done a blue collar job. Their outlook is London-based and middle-class. They despise the civil service, the monarchy and Parliament. They see re-election as their primary task and have grown fat on rising salaries and dodgy expense claims.
        - Sameer Rahim, from his Telegraph review

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