23 April 2008

Political put-downs

A light-hearted reminiscence of fabled political insults crops up regularly every year in the British press, generally re-hashing the same old quotes.  This one in the Times definitely follows that well-worn path, and for good reason: we shall not see their like again.  Winston Churchill features prominently, of course:

Then we come to Winston Churchill, who seems to have spent every spare waking moment being rude to somebody. ("Winston," said the Conservative statesman F.E. Smith, "had devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches".) Clement Attlee, the man who interrupted his reign as Prime Minister, probably got it worse than most. "A sheep in sheep's clothing," Churchill said of him. And also, "A modest man with much to be modest about."

Not that the great man was fussy. He'd be rude to pretty much anyone. "There but for the grace of God goes God," was his memorable verdict on Sir Stafford Cripps, but his best ever may have been when an aide knocked on his toilet door and told him that the Lord Privy Seal wanted to see him. "Tell the Lord Privy Seal I am sealed in my privy, and can only deal with one s--t at a time," said Churchill. He'd probably been waiting to trot that one out for years.

- 'Now that's an insult!  Top 10 political put-downs', The Times, 23 April 2008

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