Aneurin Bevan


Aneurin Bevan Quotes

  • ''I would rather be kept alive in the efficient if cold altruism of a large hospital than expire in a gush of warm sympathy in a small one.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. Speech, April 30, 1946, House of Commons.
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  • ''The worst thing I can say about democracy is that it has tolerated the Right Honourable Gentleman for four and a half years.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. Speech, July 23, 1929, to House of Commons. Hansard, col. 1191. Referring to Neville Chamberlain, prime minister 1937-1940. Bevan did not hide his low opinion of Chamberlain. "He has the lucidity which is the by-product of a fundamentally sterile mind," he wrote. "He does not have to struggle ... with the crowded pulsations of a fecund imagination. On the contrary he is almost devoid of imagination." (Quoted in Michael Foot, Aneurin Bevan, vol. 1, ch. 8, 1962).
  • ''It is not possible to create peace in the Middle East by jeopardizing the peace of the world.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. speech, Nov. 4, 1956. At rally protesting Britain's armed intervention in the Suez dispute.
  • ''If we complain about the tune, there is no reason to attack the monkey when the organ grinder is present.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. Speech, May 16, 1957, House of Commons. Hansard, col. 680. Referring to Foreign Minister Selwyn Lloyd and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and the latter's role in the Suez fiasco the previous autumn. Though Macmillan had no direct responsibility for foreign affairs during the Suez Crisis (he was then Chancellor of the Exchequer), he had advocated a strong response to the nationalization of the canal by Nasser, so that the subsequent replacement of Prime Minister Anthony Eden by Macmillan was seen by Bevan as a symbolic sacrifice.
  • ''The purpose of getting power is to be able to give it away.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. Quoted in Aneurin Bevan, vol. 1, ch. 1, Michael Foot (1962).
  • ''The Prime Minister has an absolute genius for putting flamboyant labels on empty luggage.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. Queen's Speech debate, House of Commons, Nov. 3, 1959. Quoted in Aneurin Bevan, vol. 2, ch. 16, Michael Foot (1973). Referring to Harold Macmillan.
  • ''You're not an M.P., you're a gastronomic pimp.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. Quoted in Aneurin Bevan, vol. 2, ch. 6, Michael Foot (1973). Said to a colleague who complained of attending too many public dinners.
  • ''I know that the right kind of leader for the Labour Party is a kind of desiccated calculating machine.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. speech, Sept. 29, 1954, Tribune Group, Labour Party Conference. Quoted in Aneurin Bevan, vol. 2, ch. 11, Michael Foot (1973). Taken as referring to Hugh Gaitskell, though Bevan later denied this.
  • ''He seems determined to make a trumpet sound like a tin whistle.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. Quoted in Aneurin Bevan, vol. 1, ch. 14, Michael Foot (1962). Referring to Labour politician (later prime minister) Clement Attlee. In playing second fiddle to Conservative Anthony Eden when the two were delegated to represent Britain at the U.N. conference in San Francisco, Attlee, according to Bevan, had "consistently underplayed his position and opportunities.... He brings to the fierce struggle of politics the tepid enthusiasm of a lazy summer afternoon at a cricket match."
  • ''This island is made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time.''
    Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), British Labour politician. Speech, May 24, 1945, Blackpool. Quoted in Daily Herald (London, May 25, 1945). Bevan's speech occurred on the day when Churchill announced the formation of a Conservative "caretaker" government in the wake of V.E. Day and the dissolution of the wartime coalition. The Conservatives were to be ejected from office two months later following a landslide victory for the Labour Party.

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