GDPR Policy

Paddy Ashdown

GDPR Privacy Notice

If you send me personal data in my capacity as a Member of the House of Lords, or in my personal capacity, the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are likely to apply to it. This notice gives you information I am required to provide under the GDPR, including about the protections for your personal data.

Data Controller   

 I am the data controller, and can be contacted via or by writing to me at the House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW or at Vane Cottage, Norton-sub-Hamdon, Somerset TA14 6SG.

Personal data collected, purpose and legal basis for processing  

Personal data collected and purpose

If you provide me with personal data in my capacity as a Member of the House of Lords and a private citizen, I may process it in order to help deal with the questions or issues that you raise in your message.

Legal bases 

My processing of your personal data when I first receive it from you is normally done with your consent (see Article 6(1)(a) of the GDPR).

In certain circumstances, if you have not already given it in your message I may need to ask for your explicit consent to do any further processing (for example, emailing a Government Department, or other body about the issue you have raised). This applies particularly where the data is in a special category (for example, information about your health, ethnicity or religious beliefs) (Article 9 of the GDPR).

Similarly, if you have given me personal data about a friend, relative or other person, in certain circumstances I may need to ask for that person’s consent before I can (for example) pass on his or her details to a Government Department or other body.

I may process the personal data you have given me without seeking consent if it is necessary to do so in order to:

carry out a task in the public interest that—

is in the exercise of a function of either House of Parliament, or

supports or promotes democratic engagement (Article 6(1)(e)); or

protect your vital interests or the vital interests of another person referred to in your message (Article 6(1)(d) of the GDPR).

Transfer of personal data  

I may share data:

when there is a legal requirement to do so;

so that I can take up your issue with (for example) a Government Department, local authority or other body; or

so that I can speak about the issue in a Parliamentary debate or in some other public forum.

Transfer to third countries  

Some data held on Parliamentary IT systems are held outside the UK. These data are predominantly held in data centres within the European Economic Area, for the purpose of hosting and maintenance. If personal data are transferred to third countries outside the EEA, the adequacy of the data protection regimes of those countries and organisations holding the data is assessed to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place.


I will periodically delete data when I no longer have reason to keep it for the purpose set out in section 2 above.

Data subject rights   

Under the GDPR, you have the right to:

access to

rectification of

erasure of

restrict the processing of

object to the processing of

data portability of

your personal data held by me. This is subject to the exceptions in the Data Protection Act 2018. You can contact me for further information about these rights.

Right to withdraw consent  

If I have relied on your consent to process personal data about you, you have the right to withdraw it at any time. To withdraw consent, please contact me.

Right to complain  

If you are unhappy with my use of your personal data, please let me know.

You also have the right to complain to the supervisory authority if you consider that I am in breach of your data protection rights. The supervisory authority is the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Paddy Ashdown

Citizen’s Britain


By Paddy Ashdown – Pages 14 – 22

(Here are) two pictures of how Britain could develop, each dependent on the decisions we take. They are not intended as an exercise in futurology; their purpose is to highlight some fo the major policy dilemmas we will face in the remaining years of this century.


1999 In Citadel Britain

“The danger of the past is that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots.” – Erich Fromm

The Citadel

The classical facades and glittering glass skyscrapers of our capital, and our major cities, provide the offices of our financial empires -banks, insurance companies, pension funds, the headquarters of international enterprises. They also house our government departments, which guard the state. These form the tightly linked power centre of society, monopolising communications, information and control, giving high priority to security, both internal and external. The highest levels of finance, government and the security apparatus have used their access to advanced technology as the means of increasing their power at the expense of wider society, fusing their systems in recognition of their common concerns. This citadel of power is characterised by suspicion and secrecy, thinly veiled in public relations disinformation and evasive ministerial statements. Ministers and decision makers themselves are cut off from the grubby public. Official cars and a cordon sanitaire of functionaries stand between them and the slashed seats on the underground, the graffiti and faeces in the underpass and the pavement strewn with hamburger boxes. For them, through the tinted (and discreetly reinforced glass) of the 1999 equivalent of the Daimler Sovereign, the world looks different. Nationalistic in its stance towards the world, Citadel Britain nevertheless adopts opportunistic policies within the global economy, seeking only the highest short term gains from international investment and trade.

Screwdriver Industry

Although the economy still produces rich profits for some, Britain’s industrial base has continued to shrink. Those industries which thrive on high technology, creative innovation and adaptive skill have declined. Because education and training have been neglected, Britain has not been able to keep pace with competition from America, Western Europe, Japan or the newly industrialised countries (NIC). More and more products with high capital input, high skills and high added value are being imported. British industry is characterised by assembly plants, where workers with few skills and little training do a screwdriver job for overseas companies or local firms. In our low productivity economy, workers’ standards of living and skills lag behind those of other countries, as does the quality of their products. Britain competes for investment with the newly industrialising countries of the Third World. It tries to attract new plants from overseas companies looking for weak planning controls, weak trade unions and workers willing to undertake long hours for low pay. British industry is distinguishable from the rest of Europe by poor training, low skills, low investment, poor working conditions, continuing high overtime and an archaic management style.

Rent a Mop Services

As the gap between rich and poor has widened, the rich can afford to pay for more personal services. Overall unemployment has fallen, but there are pockets where labour shortages persist. Low pay is very common, especially in the service industries. More households have nannies,nurses, maids, cooks, cleaners and gardeners. The leisure industries, in particular, employ casual labour on a large scale. Few of the people in these categories get paid enough to meet their basic needs, but they are able to claim means-tested benefits to bring them above the poverty line.

Just as public services have been privatised, so the largest sector of employment has become private services. The scope for productivity increases in this sector is so low that firms can compete and be profitable only by employing short term part time casual labour. Most of those in this casual sector do not have pension rights, sick pay, holiday pay or redundancy protection. Typically, these workers are married women or young people living with their parents, since wages are insufficient and too unreliable for the ‘main earner’ in a household.

Private Life

Citadel Britain boasts of family life as its centrepiece, and claims as its foundation the self-reliant, self-responsible household each in its own ‘castle’. But behind the security-locked front doors all is not so rosy. Ordinary families experience a good deal of stress during their working lives and increasing anxiety and fear as old age advances. Unable to afford insurance against the hazards of disability, and lacking the support of public services, the growing elderly population increasingly depends on the next generation for help and support. The burden falls unfairly on women expected to give unpaid assistance, or take their parents in, while still trying to sustain the part-time earnings on which household income depends.

The strain on mental and physical health is considerable, and the social costs are high. Women feel themselves increasingly subordinate, excluded and exploited; their paid and unpaid labour is required, yet they are not getting their share of power or income in Citadel Britain.

Meanwhile, whilst the majority of opera, concerts, art galleries and theatre can only survive with the patronage of business for the benefit of the few, the vast majority in Citadel Britain are wholly in the grip of the ‘Jumbo culture’. There is little reading and almost no access to conventional culture for the ordinary person. All of these are replaced by the surrogate of soap operas, in which there is an almost ritualised national preoccupation.

Public Perils

Every city has its deprived areas, where the poor and dispossessed live. Despite the apparent general prosperity, a significant minority have been left out. Black people in particular (survey after survey shows that they have lower paid jobs and poorer housing) are disproportionatly numerous among the poor who depend on state benefits and state services for their living. Although there are skill shortages in many areas, unemployment in these districts remains high because whole households are unable to afford to work.

High travelling and child care costs combine with low pay and means tested benefit withdrawal, to make it impossible for such people to improve their situation. Many of them feel that their only alternative is fiddling, hustling and crime.

As a result state officials maintain a brooding and coercive presence in these areas. Employment officials try to enforce low paid work under threat of benefit withdrawal; taskmasters supervise ‘workfare’ schemes for cleaning streets and public buildings; offenders are engaged in ‘punishment in the community’, doing similar tasks, monitored through electronic tags. All residents carry identity cards; relations with officials are tense and volatile; community relations are hostile; curfews for the young are in force; while the police are seen as protecting some, they are regarded as persecuting others. Coercion and control are part of the experience of daily life.

All over the country, the public environment has become shabby, down at heel and dangerous. Public transport is so unreliable, comfortless and risky that it is used only by the poor, while roads are congested and private motorists live with endless delay and frustration. The vulnerable avoid using all public amenities and increasingly stay behind locked doors at night. Some of the young and robust find expression for their frustration and surplus energy in loutish, drunken and violent outbursts. The environment is polluted, crime rates are high; the quality of public resources, public health and public behaviour continue to sink.


The government of Citadel Britain is built on its outdated political system. The concentration of power in Whitehall is very convenient and whichever political party is in power uses it to maintain its grip on authority. For many years Parliament has been used to acting as a servant of the executive, ensuring that the government of the day gets its way. The power of the state to control the release of information and to crack down on dissent is greatly aided by the absence of a Statute of Rights and an enfeebled official opposition which, willing to wait its turn for power, always plays its politics by the conventional rule book. Meanwhile, more and more citizens are disillusioned with the political choices available to them and turn out has fallen consistently at elections to the point where Parliament has decided to make voting compulsory. Nevertheless, the standing of Parliament continues to fall in the public esteem.

Regionally, too, Britain has become a nation of citadels. Many within the citadel walls, especially in the south and east, enjoy security and prosperity. Many more are outside, banging at the gates to get in.


1999 In Citzens’ Britain

“Some people see things that are and ask themselves ‘Why?’. I dream things that never have been and ask myself ‘Why not?’ ” -Aeschylus

Democratic Society

In Citizens’ Britain, it is the people’s homes in all their rich if untidy diversity, which have become the real centres of power. Information technology has not been used to concentrate power but to disperse it. Government has taken active steps to give all citizens access to new communications systems, giving people more control over their own lives and over the organisations which influence them. Decision makers, both in government and out of it have recognised that the best structure for managing and governing is one which does not concentrate power but disperses it, and enables a teamwork rather than ‘top-down’ approach. Workers have more knowledge and power in their workplace. Many own their own jobs and are self employed. Every person owns an economic stake in the nation’s economy, through a universal share ownership programme, the Citizens’ Trust. Similarly, all citizens have a share in the ownership of the privatised utility industries which serve their needs. Citizens participate more fully in government. Emphasis is on openness and rights of access, on sharing information, not guarding it; on discussion not secrecy. A reformed legal system gives each citizen on equal access to justice, with a Statute of Rights to protect freedoms. Internationally, Britain, an active participant in an increasingly integrated Europe, is seen as a promoter of constructive co-operation. We enjoy good relations with Eastern Europe, many of whose nations have taken affiliated status with the EEC. We are also leaders in international moves to solve global problems such as environmental destruction, disease and famine.

Adaptive Industry

British industry is adapting to new conditions through the benefits of political commitment to education and training. Taking its lead from Europe, Britain has invested in a crash programme to improve standards, especially in higher and adult education. Many people retrain or ‘up-skill’ twice or more in their working lives. Education has moved away from early specialisation to establishing a broad base on which specialist skills can be built. Distance learning, especially through the use of information technology, has become far more widespread, particularly in higher and adult education. There is a thriving high technology sector of industry. A skilled workforce earns high wages through producing good quality products.

The labour process is much more varied and flexible in Citizens’ Britain. In many enterprises, a relatively small core of permanent headquarters staff manage the work of employees who are dispersed, some working on a self-employed basis from their own homes and some in small decentralised units. This is not simply to save costs; it also gives workers greater autonomy and a better quality of life. Men and women are more able to share unpaid household work and child care, and both work part-time when there are major caring duties to share. People place a higher premium on adequate pay with adequate leisure than on high pay for long hours. Quality of life has become just as important as large wage packets. Indeed emphasis has shifted from overall levels of pay to a greater concern with net levels of disposable income. With more frequent retraining, the idea of sabbatical periods away from full time employment has become more accepted.

Income Security and Employment

As part time work increases, and a variety of employment contracts develops, the rights and protection of those workers becomes a matter of concern. Employers and trade unions value these ‘irregular’ as well as regular workers, and seek to advance their interests. The government adopts an income maintenance system which encourages part time work and flexibility – a Basic Income, which gives security to each individual. Although this seems controversial at first, (because it guarantees a tax-free income to each citizen irrespective of work or marital status) it is soon recognised as encouraging enterprise, self-employment and a rational use of technology and human energies. It also provides an income for periods of training and advanced education. The Basic Income gives unskilled workers far better opportunities and incentives in the labour market than a means-tested benefits system. Every citizen also receives an annual, if at first limited, dividend from the shares held in a Citizens’ Unit Trust and in the privatised utility industries. They understand that clean water and unpolluted air are essential to their own health and that of their children. Meanwhile, conditions of work, security of employment and pay bargaining are increasingly seen to be protected better through employee rights and profit sharing than through trades union rights and government legislation. Most workers in Britain have a share in the ownership of the firms in which they work.

A Healthy and Caring Society

In Citizens’ Britain people are concerned about quality of life, and not just about quantity of material possessions. They want to live a healthy and fulfilled life, to take an interest in what they consume and in self care. They use information technology to monitor their own health, and expect professionals and experts to act as advisors and consultants, rather than taking all decisions for them.

As people live longer, the proportion of elderly and disabled citizens rises. Neither the traditional ‘solution’ of institutional care nor the alternative of unpaid family care is acceptable. People with disabilities (of whatever age) are not willing to be ‘put away’ in hospitals, nor to be cut off from contact with their community. And married women, whose skills are in demand for paid employment, want choices which extend beyond low-paid menial work in institutions or accepting the assumption that they will be full time unpaid carers in the family home. So new approaches to care, which respect the autonomy and aspirations of people with disabilities, which support the carers, and which allow women the same opportunities for participation in society as men, are encouraged by state policy.

Community and Citizenship

In Citizens’ Britain, people increasingly recognise the importance of an active life as members of a community, and the value of shared resources. They prize their association with others in voluntary organisations, clubs and groups, and their membership of cultural and religious communities. They value good relations between races and faiths. Central and local government promote co-operation between citizens, providing communal facilities for a good quality of life. Environmental protection is a high priority, locally, nationally and in the international community.

Citizens have learnt to place a greater value on shared public amenities, allowing a better balance between private and public, owned and shared, quantity and quality. Public transport and public services are properly resourced, being recognised as a part of the common wealth and essential elements in a good society. It is recognised that the question ‘Who owns?’, which dominated the debate about public services and utility industries in the 1980s, is less relevant than the question ‘How is the citizen served?’. A single powerful watchdog body acts as guardian of the consumer interest where monopolies (state or private) or near monopolies operate in the public sector. Elsewhere consumer power, buttressed by rights to information, guarantees of quality and access to redress, dominates in the market place.

The need to protect and improve the environment is recognised as being central to all the decisions taken in Britain and millions of people spend part of their spare time helping to preserve our natural and cultural heritage.

Published by Fourth Estate Ltd – London 1989

Paddy Ashdown’s Quote book

Paddy Ashdown’s quotes book


“Da komsija crkne krava” – my nieghbour’s cow is dead ( Bosnian -and that makes me happy)


“Nemojte talasati” Don’t make waves. (Bosnian saying)


“Sto dobio na cupriu, izgubio na Mostu” – Bosnian – what you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabout.


“I ptice idu pjeske” – Bosnian (it’s so foggy) even the birds are walking.


“Ako nemas problema, stavi kamen u cipelu” – Bosnian – if you haven’t got a problem, put a stone in your shoe.


Ïf we don’t turn round now, we might just get to where we are going” (Indian saying)


“There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays – and every one of them is right” (says the poet – “The Turnament of Shadows” by Karl Mayer and Shareen Brysac)


“If you start out without knowing where you are going, you are probably going to end up somewhere else” Alsation proverb (Toynbee – in History of civilization – “Every nation, every people have an agenda, either conscious or unconscious. This who do not become the victim of other people’s agendas”)


“Perfect consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds” Me (I think)


“Tell me and I forget: show me and I remember: let me do and I understand” – Chinese proverb.


“The beginning is half of the deed”


“Why do people with a vision, keep bumping into things ?”


“The devil was sick, the devil a monk would be; The devil was well, the devil a devil he’d be”. Quoted in The Jenkins report. 29-10-98.


“He has a clearly defined talent – the limits of which are by now well known to everyone”.


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.


The past is history; the future is a mystery. But now is a gift, which is why it is called the present.


There is no truth, just appropriate and inappropriate actions. (Me)


“God builds the nest of the blind bird”. – Turkish proverb.


We are like a big fish that has been pulled from the water and is flopping wildly to find its way back in. In such a condition the fish never asks where the next flip or flop will bring it. It sense only that its present position is intolerable and that something else must be tried…Anon Chinese saying, quoted by Perry Link in “China in transformation”, Daedalus (1993) and Lester Thurow in”The future of capitalism (1995).


May the road rise with you,

May the wind always be at you back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And the rain fall soft upon you fields,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.


Mourn not the dead,

but rather mourn the apathetic throng,

Cowed and meek,

Who see the world’s great anguish

And its wrong

And dare not speak.


Logic is what enables you to go wrong with confidence.


We ought to be using money and valuing people. Instead we value money and use people. Patient John Latham’s surgery 30/6/93.


If you pray for what you want, pray also not to be given it.


The whip one loses, always had a golden handle. (Chinese proverb).


Take good care of me, for if I once get hold of you, I will never let your soul go – Kenyan proverb from Ipsigis (phon).


The future lies with those who see it coming.


If you want to see what the good Lord thinks of money, you only have to look at those to whom he gives it


He pitied the plumage, but forgot the dying bird – criticism of Edmund Burke’s writing on Marie Antoinette.


They hanged the man and flogged the woman

That stole the goose from of the common,

But they let the greater thief go loose,

That stole the common from the goose.


The people in between

Looked underdone and harassed

And out of place and mean

And horribly embarrassed.


Blessed are the politicians, for they shall inherit the earth.


The heart is a small thing. It is not enough for a kite’s dinner, but all the world is not enough for it. – 12th Century.


As you are, I was. As I am you shall be. – Black death tombstones.


God gave us a memory, that we might have roses in December.


Accept the things you cannot change and change the things you cannot accept.



Here’s to the wheel the world turns on,

If health was a thing that money could buy,

The rich would live and the poor would die.


I would cheerfully give my life for someone who was seeking the truth. But I would readily kill anyone who tells me they have found it


Remote from Universal Nature and living by complicated artifice, Man in civilisation surveys animals through the glass of man’s knowledge. We patronise them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate in having taken form so far below ourselves and thereby do we make a great mistake. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost, or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.//They are not brethren; they are not underlings. They are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners in the splendour and travail of the earth.


“Nothing is more pitiless than a theory. Nothing is more cruel than a political or social enthusiast, when he meets with obstacles to the establishment or even the trial of his schemes of social and political regeneration” First written about Robespierre’s France, repeated by the London Illustrated News in August 1848, about the Irish Famine.


“It has been our custom in Germany, to put engineers on our boards, unlike the British, who favoured accountants. That has worked very well for us. But one consequence has been that we have been inclined to think of organisations as machines and to manage them as machines. Today our minds tell us that the organisations which we will need in the future will be more like networks and villages than machines; but our hearts are still with the machines. Until our hearts fall in line with our minds, we shall find the future hard going.” Unknown German industrialist, quoted by Charles Handy in the Demos pamphlet “The new enterprise culture” May 1966.





“A state which is incompetent to satisfy different races condemns itself; a State which labours to neutralize, to absorb, to expel them, destroys its own vitality; a State which does not include them, is destitute of the chief basis of self Government” .


“Those nations are happy which do not resent the complexity of life”


“Where there is no powerful democracy, freedom does not reign”


“It is easier to find people fit to govern themselves, than people fit to govern”


“When a poor man becomes destitute, it is a moral evil, teeming with consequences”.






“Ride in the whirlwind, and direct the storm”. – on the Duke of Marlborough.






Some people see things that are and ask themselves “why”?


I dream of things that never have been and ask myself “why not ?”.



ANDERSEN (Founder of East Asiatic Co.)



The globe is not too large to be encircled by ideas.





“Indeed the town changed rapidly in appearance, for the newcomers cut down trees, planted new ones in other places, repaired the streets, cut new ones, dug drainage canals, built public buildings. In the first few years they pulled down they pulled down in the market place, those old and dilapidated shops which were out of line and which, to tell the truth, had up til then inconvenienced no one. In place of those old fashioned shops with their wooden drop counters, new ones were built, well sited with tiled roofs and metal rollers on the doors…The market place was leveled and widened. A new KONAK was erected, a great building intended to house the law courts and the local administration. The army too was working on its own account, even more rapidly and inconsiderately than the civil authorities. They put up barracks, cleared waste land, planted and chopped and changed the appearance of whole hills.


The older inhabitants could not understand, and wondered; just when they thought that all this incomprehensible energy had come to an end, the newcomers started some fresh and even more incomprehensible task. The townsmen stopped and looked at this work, but not like children who love to watch the work of adults, but as adults who stop for a moment to watch children’s games. This continual need of the newcomers to build and re-build, to dig and to put back again, to put up and modify, this eternal desire of theirs to foresee the action of natural forces

and to surmount them, no one either understood or appreciated. On the other hand, all the townspeople, especially the older men, saw all this unhealthy activity as a bad omen. Had it been left to them, the town would have gone on looking as any other little oriental town. What burst would be patched up, what leant would be shored up, but beyond that no one would needlessly create work or make plans or interfere in the foundations of buildings or change the aspect which God had given the town.”


On the coming of the Hapsburgs to Visegrad. Bridge on the Drina


Alihodja on the numbering of houses under the Austrians in Visegrad.


“You can see that the people of Bosnia are divided into three or even four faiths and in bloody conflict with each other and all of them separated from Europe – that is, from the world and life, by an impassable wall…There is no doubt that one day your country will join the European community, but it could happen that that it joins it divided and burdened with inherited ideas, habits and instincts which you won’t find anywhere else any more. And like ghosts they will hinder its normal development and create of it an outdated monster which would be prey to everyone.. And these people do not deserve that. You see that not a single nation, not one country in Europe bases its progress on a religious foundation“.


The days of the Consuls (Travnicka Hronika). Des Fosses talking to Brother Julian in Travnik in the year 1809.


“I am afraid that in these circles, under the cover of all these contemporary maxims, old instincts and Cain-like plans may be slumbering and will, on and on until the foundations of material and spiritual life in Bosnia are altogether changed. And when will that time come and who will have the strength to carry it out ? It will come one day I do believe. But what I’ve seen in Bosnia does not indicate that things are advancing along that path at present”.


“Whoever lies awake in Sarajevo hears the voices of the Sarajevo night. The clock on the Catholic cathedral strikes the hour with weighty confidence: 2 am. More than a minute passes (to be exact 75 seconds – I counted) and only then, with a rather weaker but piercing sound does the Orthodox church announce the hour and chime it’s own 2 am. A moment after it the tower clock on the Bey’s mosque strikes the hour, in a hoarse, far away voice that strikes 11, the ghostly Turkish hour, by the strange calculation of distant and alien parts of the world. The Jews have no clock to sound their hour, so God alone knows what time it is for them by the Sephardic reckoning or the Ashkenazy. Thus at night, while everyone is sleeping, division keeps vigil in the counting of the late small hours and separates these sleeping people who, awake, rejoice and mourn, feast and fast by four different and antagonistic calendars and send all their prayers and wishes to one heaven in four different ecclesiastical languages”


Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.

He pushed them, and they flew…



We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.


Poetry is of graver import than history.





O Demos (people), can there ever be a man

Who loves you as dearly as I?…

Vouchsafe to blow your nose, and clean

Your fingers on my hair…. Pahplagon in The Knights.




“For each man according to his intelligence must speak what he can speak. And, according to his ability, do what he can do”



AUDEN, Wystan H.


I and the public know,

What all schoolchildren learn,

Those to whom evil is done,

Do evil in return.


“September 1, 1939”

“To the man in the street,

Who I am sorry to say,

Is a keen observer of life,

The word intellectual conveys straight away,

A man who’s untrue to his wife.”


As I Walked Out One Evening

by W. H. Auden


As I walked out one evening,

Walking down Bristol Street,

The crowds upon the pavement

Were fields of harvest wheat.


And down by the brimming river

I heard a lover sing

Under an arch of the railway:

‘Love has no ending.


‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

Till China and Africa meet,

And the river jumps over the mountain

And the salmon sing in the street,


‘I’ll love you till the ocean

Is folded and hung up to dry

And the seven stars go squawking

Like geese about the sky.


‘The years shall run like rabbits,

For in my arms I hold

The Flower of the Ages,

And the first love of the world.’


But all the clocks in the city

Began to whirr and chime:

‘O let not Time deceive you,

You cannot conquer Time.


‘In the burrows of the Nightmare

Where Justice naked is,

Time watches from the shadow

And coughs when you would kiss.


‘In headaches and in worry

Vaguely life leaks away,

And Time will have his fancy

To-morrow or to-day.


‘Into many a green valley

Drifts the appalling snow;

Time breaks the threaded dances

And the diver’s brilliant bow.


‘O plunge your hands in water,

Plunge them in up to the wrist;

Stare, stare in the basin

And wonder what you’ve missed.


‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,

The desert sighs in the bed,

And the crack in the tea-cup opens

A lane to the land of the dead.


‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes

And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,

And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,

And Jill goes down on her back.


‘O look, look in the mirror,

O look in your distress:

Life remains a blessing

Although you cannot bless.


‘O stand, stand at the window

As the tears scald and start;

You shall love your crooked neighbour

With your crooked heart.’


It was late, late in the evening,

The lovers they were gone;

The clocks had ceased their chiming,

And the deep river ran on.







“Without Justice, what is a state, but a mighty collection of robbers”….Quoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his sermon to the Gulf War Memorial Service in St. Paul’s 28/2/96



BACON Francis (Monk of Ilchester)



“Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est” (knowledge is power).


Wealth is like muck – best when spread.







“Don’t spit on the deck and don’t talk to the man at the wheel” – Mark Twain. Used as advice to departing statesmen (and Party Leaders – quoted by Harold Wilson, when handing over to Callaghan)



BELLAH. Robert.



We will need to remember that we did not create ourselves, that we owe what we are to the communities which formed us and to what Paul Tillich called “the structure of grace in history” that made such communities possible.// Above all we need to remember our poverty. We have been called a people of plenty, and though our per capita GNP has been surpassed by several other nations, we are still enormously affluent. Yet the truth of our condition is our poverty. We are finally defenceless on this earth…..// Such a vision is neither Conservative nor liberal…It does not seek to return to the harmony of a traditional society, though it is open to learning from the wisdom of such societies. It does not reject the modern criticism of all traditions, but it insists in turn on criticism of criticism, that human life is lived in the balance between faith and doubt. Such a vision arises not only from the theories of intellectuals, but from the practices of life that Americans are already engaged in.



BELLOC Hilaire


The accursed power that stands on privilege

(and goes with women and champagne and bridge)

Broke – and democracy resumed her reign

(and goes with bridge and women and champagne).



BEVAN. Aneurin.



The British working class are crucified on the poverty of their own aspirations.


For the political student the holy grail is the living truth. And the truth, being living, must change.


“I know the right kind of leader for the Labour Party is a desiccated calculating machine who must not in any way permit himself to be swayed by indignation. If he sees suffering, privation or injustice he must not allow it to move him, for that would be evidence of lack of education, or absence of self control. He must speak in calm and objective accents and talk about a dying child in the same way as he would about the pieces inside an internal combustion machine”






I have set before thee life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that you and your seed may live. – Deuternomy 30 v 15.


“By faith, Abraham went out”.


“The good that I would, I do not. And the evil that I would not, I do. Wretched man that I am.” St. Paul.


“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four things which I know not.


The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent on a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid” The Confessions of faith of Agur; Proverbs 30





One can only wait until one hears the steps of God resounding through events, then leap forward and grasp a corner of his mantle as he passes by.






“Energy is eternal delight”.






“The men who won our independence believed that the final end of the State was to make men free to develop their faculties:…..they believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think, are indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; and that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people….They recognised the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear or punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced through law – the argument of force in its worse form. Recognising the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the constitution so that free speech and assembly should be

guaranteed”… Whitney-v-California 274 US 357 (1927) pp 375-376






When I dream alone, it is a dream. But when my dream is shared with many others, then it can be the start of reality.






The Government has decided that the people are wrong and that therefore the people should be disbanded.


“The bitch is on heat again” – on the re-emergence of fascism in Europe





The nation in every country dwells in the cottage; and unless the light of your constitution can shine there; unless the beauty of your legislation and the experience of your statesmanship are impressed there on the feelings and conditions of the people, rely upon it, you have yet to learn the duties of Government.



BURKE. Edmund.



Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.



“ Liberty, too, must be limited to be possessed”


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men should do nothing.



To be attached to the sub-division, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle, the germ, as it were, of wider public affections. – Reflections on the Revolution in France.



If civil society be made for the advantage of man, then all the advantages for which it is made become his right.


“Liberty, too must be limited in order to be possessed”





A man’s reach should exceed his grasp – or what is heaven for ?



BROWNING. Elizabeth Barett.


I confess that I dream of a day when an English statesman shall arise with a heart too large for England, having the courage to face his countrymen to assert of some suggested policy “This is good for your trade; it is necessary for your domination; but it will vex a people hard by; it will hurt a people further off; it will profit nothing to the general humanity; therefore away with it ! it is not for you and me”// When a British Minister dares speak so and when a British public applauds him speaking, then shall the nation be glorious.



CAMPBELL Mrs (courtesan and friend of G.B.Shaw)



“Marriage is the natural desire for the deep, deep peace of the double bed, after the hurly burly of the chaise longue.”



CARLYLE. Thomas.



One thing I do know and can again assert with great confidence, supported by the whole Universe of some 200 generations of men that the few wise will have, by one method or another, to take command of the innumerable foolish. They must be got to take it….and that without it there is no society possible in the world. – 1850 “The Present Time “.


Carol, Lewis

“Be what you would seem to be”–or if you’d like it put more simply–“Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.” The Duchess in the Mock Turtle’s story. Chapter IX in Alice in Wonderland.


Chaplin. Charlie


I am interested in the future because it’s where I will spend the rest of my life .





“Nought for your comfort,

Yea, nought for your desire.

Save that the sky grows darker yet

And the sea rises higher.”



“Smile at us, pay us, pass, but do not quite forget


For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.”



“In the city set upon slime and loam

They cry in their Parliament “Who goes home?”

And there comes no answer in arch or dome,

For none in the city of graves goes home.

Yet these shall perish and understand,

For God has pity on this great land.


Men that are men again, Who goes home ?

Tocsin and trumpeter! Who goes home ?

For there’s blood on the field and blood on the foam

And blood on the body when man goes home

And a voice valedictory…Who is for victory ?

Who is for liberty ? Who goes home ?”


Who goes home.



“With pomp – and with ridiculous display,

The politician’s corpse was borne away.

And all around him carped and slanged.

But I wept – I had wished to see him hanged.”






The cause of the Liberal Party is the cause of the left out millions.


The stone age may return on the gleaming wings of science; and what might now shower immeasurable blessings upon mankind, may even bring about its destruction. Beware, I say; time may be short.



We know what to expect when the

Tories return to power; a Party of great vested interest, bonded together in a formidable confederation.// Corruption at home, aggression abroad; the tyranny of a wealth fed Party machine; Patriotism by the bucketful and imperialism by the imperial pint. An open hand at the public exchequer, an open door at the public house.// Dear food for the millions, cheap labour for the millionaire. That is the policy the Tory Party offers you….



In war; resolution. In defeat; defiance. In victory; magnanimity. In peace; goodwill.



It is better to do something, than to sit around doing nothing, while waiting to do everything.


“What enterprise that an enlightened community may attempt is more

noble and more profitable than the reclamation from barbarism of

fertile regions and large populations? To give peace to warring tribes,

to administer justice where all was violence, to strike the chains off

the slave, to draw the richness from the soil, to plant the earliest

seeds of commerce and learning, to increase in whole peoples their

capacities for pleasure and diminish their chances of pain–what more

beautiful ideal or more valuable reward can inspire human effort? The

act is virtuous, the exercise invigorating, and the result often

extremely profitable. Yet as the mind turns from the wonderful cloudland

of aspiration to the ugly scaffolding of attempt and achievement,

a succession of opposite ideas arises. Industrious races are displayed

stinted and starved for the sake of an expensive Imperialism which they

can only enjoy if they are well fed. Wild peoples, ignorant of their

barbarism, callous of suffering, careless of life but tenacious of

liberty, are seen to resist with fury the philanthropic invaders, and to

perish in thousands before they are convinced of their mistake. The

inevitable gap between conquest and dominion becomes filled with the

figures of the greedy trader, the inopportune missionary, the ambitious

soldier, and the lying speculator, who disquiet the minds of the

conquered and excite the sordid appetites of the conquerors. And as the

eye of thought rests on these sinister features, it hardly seems possible

for us to believe that any fair prospect is approached by so foul a path.” The River War




“If there must be war, victory lies not in defeating an army but in securing the willing submission of a populace.   Stability, not a passing triumph of arms, is the test”.




CLOUGH Arthur Hugh.



If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars.


“Say not the struggle nought availeth

The labour and the wounds are vain.

The enemy faints, not nor faileth

And as things have been they remain.


For while the tired waves vainly breaking

Seem here no painful inch to gain

Far back through creeks and inlets making

Comes silent, flooding in the main.


And not bye Eastern windows only

When daylight comes, comes in the light

In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly

But Westward look, the land is bright.”


COLBY. Frank.



I have found some of the best reasons for remaining at the bottom, simply by looking at the men at the top.






The human mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.





The journey of a thousand miles still begins with a single step.


One day, Confucius instructed his disciples to spend the afternoon planting a Banyan tree, a type of tree notable for its longevity. One of his disciples complained “But master, what’s the urgency – they take a thousand years to grow.” “That’s why you had better start this afternoon” he replied.





You must not only strike while the iron is hot. You must also make the iron hot by striking.





Frontiers are the razors edged on which hang suspended the issue of war and peace and the life of nations” Romanes lecture Oxford. 1907.






Is it not conceivable that values borrowed largely from economic development miss some important points. Could it not be that tomorrow’s “rationality” and “reasonableness”are not about work and production, but about a different shape for human lives. – After Social Democracy – 1980.


The greater task is to keep our affairs open for change. – Reflections on the revolution in Europe – 1990.



Day-Lewis C.


“I have had worse partings, but none that so gnaws my mind still.

Perhaps it is roughly showing what God alone could perfectly show –

How selfhood begins with a walking away,

And love is provided in the letting go.”



DEFOE, Daniel


«  Thus, from a mixture of all kinds, began,

That heterogeneuos thing, an Englishman.

In eager rapes and furious lust begot,

Betwixt a painted Briton and a Scot…

A true born Englisman’s a contradiction.

In speech, an irony, in fact, a fiction. »

The True Born Englishman.



DE GAULLE. Charles.



“Treaties are like young virgins and roses. They last while they last.”


“We are living through moments which will, forever, transcend our poor individual lives.” Liberation of Paris. 1945.



DISRAELI. Benjamin.



We live in an age when to be young and indifferent can no longer be synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the future are represented by suffering millions; the youth of a nation are the trustees of prosperity. – last lines of “Sybil”.



There will be no charm; no prescriptive spell; no families of historic lineage; none of those great estates around which men rally when liberty is assailed: no statesmanship, no eloquence, no learning, no genius. Instead of these you will have a horde of selfish and obscene mediocrities, incapable of anything but mischief and that mischief devised and regulated by the demagogue of the hour. – House of Commons – on universal franchise.


“The days and weeks of screwed up smiles and courtesy, the mock geniality, the hearty shake of the filthy hand, the chuckling reply that must be made to the coarse joke, the loathsome, choking compliment that must be paid to the grimy and sluttish daughter, the indispensable flattery of the vilest religious prejudices, the wholesale dilution of hypocritical pledges.” On electioneering.






“The Anglo-Americans acknowledge the moral authority of the reason of

the community as they acknowledge the political authority of the mass of the citizens” …Democracy in America – p393.


“The last thing a political party gives up is its vocabulary. This is because, in party politics as in other matters, it is the crowd who dictates the language, and the crowd relinquishes the ideas it has been given more readily than the words it has learned.”


“The French way of thinking is that they do not wish to have superiors. The English wish to have inferiors. The Frenchman constantly raises his eyes above him in anxiety. The Englishman lowers them beneath him in satisfaction.” Voyage en Angleterrre





I need thy thunder Oh Lord. Thy songs no longer suffice me.


On a huge hill,

Cragg’d and steep, truth stands.

And hee that would reach her,

About must and about must goe.

And what the hills suddenness resists, win so.

Yet strive so, that before age,

Death’s twilight,

Thy soul rest. For none can strive in that night.

Satyre III


DRINKWATER – John (1882-1937).



Come sweetheart, listen, for I have a thing/ most wonderful to tell you – news of Spring./ Albeit winter still is in the air/ And the earth troubled and thes branches bare/ Yet down the fields I saw her pass – / The Spring – her feet went shining through the grass/ She touched the ragged hedgerows. I have seen/ Her finger prints, most delicately green,/ And she has whispered to the crocus leaves,/ And the garrulous sparrows in the eaves/ Swiftly she passed and shyly, and her fair/ Young face was hidden in her cloudy hair/ She would not stay her season is not yet./ But she awakened and has set/ The sap of the world astir, and rent/ Once more the shadows of our discontent/ Triumphant news – A miracle I sing/ The everlasting miracle of Spring.



EDEN Anthony



On Britain “no more than some millions of people, living on an island off the coast of Europe, in which nobody wants to take any particular interest”.






Common sense is the word we give to the prejudices we acquire before are fifteen.






Every gun that is fired – every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed – from those who are cold – and are not clothed.//The world in arms is not spending money alone – it is spending the sweat of its labours – the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.





“The last temptation is the greatest treason ; to do the right thing for the wrong reason” – Murder in the Cathedral.


EMRE, YUNUS (13th century Turkish poet)


“A Dervish needs a wounded heart and eyes full of tears… he must be without hands when someone hits him, without tongue when cursed… as long as you take offence you cannot be a Dervish .. those who learned to be truly human found everything in being humble and those who looked proudly from above were pushed down the stairs. A heart that must always feel superior will one day lose its way. Whatever you think of yourself, think also the same of others…”




“We must die; but must we die groaning?


We must be imprisoned; but must we whine as well?”


“Remember this. That you are merely an actor in a drama, of such length as the author determines. If long, then in a long way. If short then in a short way”






Where is the life we have lost in living ?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?


Where is the knowledge we have lost in information ?


The end of all our exploring will be the place where we started, and we will know it for the first time.


ELPHINSTONE – LORD (on the Afghans)


“Their vices are revenge, envy, avarice, rapacity and obstinacy. On the other hand they are fond of liberty, faithful to their friends, kind to their dependents, brave, hardy and prudent.” (description when sent to parley with the Afghan King on behalf of the east Indian Company in 1805)



In great things, it is enough to have tried.






We call people environmentalists because they are moved to defend what we call the environment, but at the bottom, their action is actually a defence of the cosmos, not the scenery. – Natural Alien – humankind and the environment.



FALKLAND   2ND Viscount (killed at the battle of Newbury in the Civil War, fighting on the King’s side)


“On rainy days, I pity unlearned men”



FARADAY Michael.



Questioned by Gladstone on being shown one of Faraday’s experiments demonstrating the existence of electricity.


  1. “And what use will this be, Mr Faraday ?”
  2. “I don’t know yet, but whatever it is, you’ll find a way to tax it.”




“The past is not dead – in fact it is not even the past”



FAWCETT – Millicent Garrett



“I am a Liberal because Liberalism seems to me to mean a faith in people, and confidence that they will manage their own affairs far better than those affairs are likely to be managed for them by others.


No section of the people have ever been excluded from political power without suffering legislative injustice. To mention only a few instances: the working class suffered for two centuries from laws which attempted to fix the rate of wages, to prevent labourers migrating from place to place in search of better paid employment, to suppress trade societies and to facilitate the embezzlement of their funds. Women have suffered, and are still suffering from a number of unjust laws….


Every case of injustice is a double curse, harming those it is supposed to favour, as much as those to whom it is obviously oppressive; and Liberalism, notwithstanding the timidity of some faint-hearted and weak kneed Liberals, is the main force in the political world which cuts at the root of injustice; not so much by tinkering and patching up particular instances of wrong, as by giving people the power to protect themselves. Equal justice to all, man or woman, workman or aristocrat, is the only sort of liberalism that deserves the name” – Why I Am A Liberal – 1885.





“I am the Emperor and I want dumplings”



“For lust of knowing what should not be known,

We make the golden journey to Samarkand”


FOX Charles James



“You think you can best serve the country by continuing in a fruitless opposition: I think it is impossible to serve it at all, but by coming to power, and go even so far as to think it irreconcilable with the duties of a public man to refuse it, if offered to him in a manner consistent with his private honour and so as to enable him to form fair hopes of doing essential service.” Letter to Rockingham in 1779.






(The just society)..must, so far as possible provide equally the conditions under which members can, by their own efforts…achieve the best lives of which they are capable.



FROST Robert


“A liberal is a man too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel”


FOWLES – John.



There is a spiritual corollary to the way we are currently de-foresting and de-naturing our planet. In the end, what we most defoliate and deprive, is ourselves. – The Tree.






Hero worship is a dangerous vice and one of the minor merits of a democracy is that it does not encourage it or produce that unimaginable type of citizen known as the great man. It produces instead different kinds of small men – a much finer achievement.



FRAYN, Michael.



The Herbivores, or gentle ruminants look out from the lush pastures which are their natural station in life, with eyes full of sorrow for less fortunate creatures, guiltily conscious of their advantages, though not usually ceasing to eat grass. But the Carnivores believe that if God had not wished them to prey on all smaller creatures without scruple, he would not have made them as they are” Essay on the 1951 Festival of Britain – comments on the two strains in the privileged classes.






“But dear, all the wrong people are cheering” – comment to her husband after his “end of a thousand years of history” speech against European Union.






“E pur si muove” (“all the same, it does move” – the earth around the sun). As he died in the flames.





You are the bow, from which your children, as arrows, are sent out. Let your bending in the archer’s hands be for gladness “The prophet” Halil Gibran





“Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat” From a radio broadcast in the Summer of 1936.


“Whenever I hear anyone talk of Culture, I reach for my revolver”….. Actually not Oering, though attributed to him. Originally from a 1934 play by Schlageter. “Wann ich Kultur hore…entsicherich meinen Browning” – “When I hear the word culture.. I slip the safety catch on my Browning”.



GREEN T.H. – Whyte Prof Moral Philosophy – leading “new Liberal” 1836-82.



When we speak of freedom…we mean by it a power which each man exercises through the help or security of his fellow-men, and which he in turn helps to secure for them….Thus, though of course, there can be no freedom among men who act not willingly, but under compulsion, yet on the other hand the mere removal of compulsion, the mere enabling of a man to do as he likes, is in itself no contribution to true freedom. In one sense no man is

so well able to do as he likes as the wandering savage. He has no master. There is no-one to say him nay. Yet we do not count him really free, because the freedom of savagery is not strength, but weakness. The actual powers of the noblest savage do not admit to comparison with those of the humblest citizen of a law-abiding state….So to submit is the first step in true freedom, because it is the first step towards the full faculties with which man is endowed” Lecture given at Leicester 1881.



GREY Viscount



The increase in armaments that is intended in every nation to produce consciousness of strength and sense of security, does not produce these effects. On the contrary it produces a consciousness of the strength of other nations and a sense of fear. Fear begets suspicion and distrust and evil imaginings of all sorts, till each Government feels it would be criminal and a betrayal of its own not to take precaution, while every other Government regards every precaution of every other Government as evidence of hostile intent. speech while Foreign Secretary.



GRIGUA ArchBishop.



Lord, things are serious – this time please come yourself, for this is not job for a boy.



GHANDI Mahatma



The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.


I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man for the cruelty of man.


Enough for every man’s need – not enough for everyone’s greed.


To the starving man, even God would hesitate to appear, except in the guise of a rice bowl.


It a superstition and an ungodly thing to believe that an act of a majority binds a minority. Many examples can be given in which acts of majorities will be found to be wrong and those of minorities to have been right. All reforms owe their origin to the initiation of minorities in opposition to majorities.



The Seven Social sins

  1. Politics without principle.
  2. Wealth without work.
  3. Commerce without morality.
  4. Pleasure without conscience.
  5. Education without character.
  6. Science without humanity.
  7. Worship without sacrifice.


One cannot follow truth or love as long as one is subject to fear. Without courage there is no morality, no religion, no life.






Since men are unequal, they can only be made equal by being treated unequally. This is likely neither to be fair nor civilised.


In a fully socialist society, everyone has less, for fear that anyone has more.






“The principle of Liberalism is trust in the people, qualified by prudence. The principle of Conservatism is mistrust of the people, qualified by fear” – Why I am a Liberal – 1885.


Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.


Be inspired by the thought that life is a great and noble calling – not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best we may, but a pathway to the stars, if that is what you wish to make it. – speech to students at Hawarden Grammar School.


The principle of Toryism is mistrust of the people, qualified by fear. The principle of Liberalism is trust of the people qualified by prudence.


“Former Prime Ministers are like great rafts, floating untethered in a harbour”…Probably about Robert Peel..1846.


“Swimming for his life, a man does not see much of the country through which the river winds, and I probably know little of these years through which I busily work and live, beyond this, how sin and frailty deface them, and how mercy crowns them” His diaries 31 December 1869 on the eve of his first Ministry. Quoted Roy Jenkins biog p294.


“Human justice is ever lagging after wrong – as the prayers in Homer come limping after sin”


“There never was a Churchill from John of Marlborough down that had either morals or principle” (on Lord Randloph)


“No Chancellor of the Exchequer is worth his salt who is not ready to save what are meant by the candle ends and cheese pairings in the cause of his country” (Edinburgh 1879)


“But what is a good leader for if he dare not tell his Party that they are wrong” (Dec 1891).


I can say three things of him. 1. that he is one of the ablest men I have ever known. 2. that he is of the highest honour and probity. 3. That I do not know whether he really has any common sense (On Roseberry)

“I absorb the vapour and turn it into a flood” (on his style of speaking)


Standing up to his enemies is commendable – but give me a man who can stand up to his friends (1890)


A radical is a Liberal who is in earnest.


Remember that … the sanctity of human life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, is as inviolable in the eye of Almighty God as can be your own. Remember that … mutual love is not limited by the shores of this island, is not limited by the boundaries of Christian civilisation, that it passes over the whole surface of the earth and embraces the meanest along with the greatest in its unmeasured scope.


GALBRAITH – Kenneth.



My first plea is for what anciently has been called the social ethic, what more simply is a good sense of community. This is not a subtle or sophisticated thing. It is the will to be as concerned with what must be done jointly with others, to have as much pride in this achievement, as in what one does for oneself.//In the

last few years we have witnessed the growth of a contrary mood….That is the celebration, even satisfaction, of self concern. A person’s highest duty, it is held, is to his own income, his own personal enjoyment; freedom is the freedom to get money with the minimum constraint and to spend it with the smallest possible contribution to public purposes.//So defined, freedom is a purely first person affair. No attention may be given to public action that enhances the freedom of someone else. In accordance with the first person ethic, deduction from private income for public schools



GEORGE, Henry.



Be young in heart; resolute in mind; bold in purpose.



HALPERIN, Morton. (US Secrtary of State for Defence).



NATO doctrine is to fight with conventional arms until we are losing; then to fight with tactical nuclear weapons until we are losing; then to blow up the whole world.



HAMILTON, Lord George


“Try to suffer fools more gladly – they constitute the majority of mankind” – advice to Lord Curzon, when a young man






When I think of the thousands of white livered paltroons who take Christ’s name in vain, and yet do not see his image being crucified in every hungry child, I cannot think of peace. I have known, as a child, what hunger means and the sores of those days are with me still, and rankle in my spirit and unfit me in many ways for the work to be done. If the spiritually proud and pride blinded Professors of Christianity could only be made to feel and see that Christ is with us and that they are laying on the stripes and binding the brow afresh with thorns, and making him shed tears of blood in a million homes, surely then this world would be made fit for his kingdom. – Christmas message 1897.



HAZLETT, William.



When you go abroad, take your common sense with you, but leave your prejudices behind.




History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.

from “The Cure at Troy”







Life has value only to the extent that it has something valuable as its object.



HAVEL Vaclav.



Truth and freedom depend on each other. If you want to have freedom, you must find the courage to say the things others don’t dare to say.



HAYEK, Fredrich.



The triumphant claim of the British Parliament to have become sovereign, and so able to govern subject to no law, may prove to have been the death knell of both individual freedom and democracy – New studies in Philosophy, Politics ad economics and the history of ideas.






“The electors of South Somerset are an independent people, with a strong non-conformist streak. Aubrey’s lack of convention appealed to their sturdy, and sometimes surly, individualism” Margaret Fitzherbert “The man who was Greenmantle” P 78.


“I didn’t realise how glad I am to have done with Yeovil till I got here. It is a change to come from niggling non-conformists to people who really are ready to sacrifice all they have for their creed” – Herbert from Constantinople. 1908. p. 82





“I am humble enough to recognise that I have made mistakes, and politically astute enough to have forgotten what they were”.





“Covenants, without the sword, are but words”….Leviathan.


HOLTBY Winifred (author of South Riding)


“When I cane to consider local Government, I began to see how it was in essence the first line defence thrown up by the community against our common enemies: poverty, sickness, ignorance, isolation, mental derangement and social mal-adjustment. The battle is not faultlessly conducted, nor are the motives of those who take part in it all righteous or disinterested. But the war is I believe worth fighting and this corporate action is at least based on one fundamental truth about human nature – that we are not only single individuals, each face to face with eternity and our separate spirits; we are also members one of another”






“For there is nothing more potent or better than this; when a man and a woman, sharing the same ideas about life, keep house together. It is a thing which causes pain to their enemies and pleasure to their friends, but only they know what it really means.” Odyssey VI, 183.


“My friend, if by deserting from this war before us

You and I would be destined to live for ever, knowing no old age,

We would do it; I would not fight among the first,

I would not send you to the battle which brings glory to men.


But now, as things are, when the ministers of death stand by us

In their thousands, which no man born to die can escape, or even evade,

Let us go” Achilles last speech.


HUGO Victor


“And I will hear France cry “it is my turn. Am I your enemy ? No!. I am

your sister. I have retaken all, and I give it all back on one condition; that is that we shall be one united people, but one single family, but one republic. I will demolish my fortresses. You will demolish yours. My vengeance, it is fraternity. No more frontiers, the Rhine for all ! Let us have the United States of Europe, let us have continental federation, let us have European freedom!”

Speaking to the Assemble National in Bordeaux – 1 March 1871. Quoted by Churchill in his United Sates of Europe article, written in Chartwell in 1946.


IPI, Fakir of


‘Periodically the British forgot that you can annex land but not people….. Whilst a military strategy is required to occupy territory, a political strategy not reliant upon explicit military force is invariably needed to pacify and appease the population.’


The Fakir of Ipi, Warren born Mirza Ali Khan (born North Western Frontier 1897)






The earth mourns and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish together with the earth, and the earth lies polluted under its inhabitants. The wine mourns, the vine languishes, the merry hearted sigh – Chapter 24 Verses 4-7


The mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of thorn, there shall come up the cypress. Instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off – Chapter 55 Verses 12-13.



JACKSON H (Guardian American correspondent on his return to Britain in 1985)



I find that I really have started to worry about what I previously thought far fetched – that, as an Englishman, I stand a good chance of being deprived of my ability to go about my lawful occasions, to have my children educated, to register my vote and to be protected against arbitrary government. These rights seem much more endangered in this country than I thought possible when I left.




“The world lay still in the morning mist and gave itself over to the angel of evil” (On the Bosnian War).





“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to choose the latter”






“Making a speech on economics is like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but not to anyone lese”






“Stand for truth. Its enough”.





(From a questioner) “What signifies a halfpence to common beggars? They only lay it out on gin and tobacco”


Dr J. “And why should they be all denied each sweetness of their existence ? It is surely bad to refuse them every possible avenue of pleasure reckoned too coarse for our own acceptance? Life is a pill none of us can swallow without gilding. Yet for the poor, we delight in stripping it still barer and are not ashamed to show them every possible displeasure if ever the bitter taste is taken from their mouths”.


Quoting one Oliver Edwards: “I too, in my time, have tried to be a philosopher, but cheerfulness kept breaking in.”


KANT Emanuel


“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”




“A woman is known as a sack, made to endure. “ In this code of the mountain Albanians a woman is valued at roughly the same value as a mule, or three times the fine for starting to eat before your guest.




“I saw a Sarajevo so much ruined, so much loved – loved as never before – rising up from the earth, taking off and flying away somewhere beyond, where everything is gentle and tranquil”. Sarajevo: Exodus of a city, and a glimpse of a new Jerusalem.



KING Martin Luther.



The dreadful silence of the good.


We must either live together as brothers, or we shall die together as fools.





As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began

That the dog returns to his vomit and the sow returns to her mire

And the burnt fool’s bandaged finger, goes wabbling back to the fire.”




“There is more respect to be won in the opinion of this world by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than by the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant or unpromising objectives.”






To be courageous requires no exceptional qualification, no magic formula, no special combination of time, place and circumstance. It is an opportunity that is, sooner or later presented to us all…In whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience…each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past

courage can define that ingredient…they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his soul.






“The Gross National Product includes air pollution and advertising cigarettes and ambulance to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles with nuclear warheads.// And if the Gross Ational Product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets… It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate, or the integrity of our public officials.// The Gross National Product measures neither our wit, not our courage, neither our wisdom, nor our learning. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile; and it can tell us everything about America – except whether we are proud to be Americans.”






Dangerous acts can be done safely in a community which thinks and feels rightly, which would be the way to hell, if executed by those who think and feel wrongly


How could I bring myself to be a Conservative ? They offer me neither food nor drink – neither intellectual nor spiritual consolation. I should not be amused, or excited or edified. That which is common to the atmosphere, the mentality, the view of life of – well I shall not mention names – promotes neither my self-interest, nor the public good. It leads nowhere; it satisfies no ideal; it conforms to no intellectual standard; it is not even safe or calculated to preserve from spoiling that degree of civilisation which we have already obtained. Ought I then to join the Labour Party? Superficially that is more attractive, but looked at closer there are great difficulties. To begin with it is a class Party and the class is not my class. If I am going to pursue sectional interests at all, I shall pursue my own….I can be influenced by what seems to me to be justice and good sense. but the class war will find me on the side of the bourgeoisie…(BUT).. I do not wish to live under Conservative Government for the next 20 years”. (he went on to argue for Lib/Lab co-operation with a rejuvenated Liberalism providing most of the ideas. Before the 1929 election.



“I seem to see the elder parrots sitting around and saying “You can rely on us. Every day for 30 years we have said “What a lovely morning”. But this is a bad bird. He says one thing one day and something else the next”. On inconsistency in 1831.





“To stand against the masses is, in the opinion of the majority, complete nonsense. For the masses, the numbers, the public are themselves the powers of salvation, that association of lovers of liberty from whom salvation is to come…That is the result of having fought for centuries against Kings and Popes and the powerful, and having looked upon the people and the masses as something holy. It does not occur to people that historical categories change, and that now the masses are the only tyrant at the bottom of corruption”. Journals . 1834-54.



KOMENIUS (quoted by Hayek in 1990)



People, your Government has returned to you.



LAMB Charles.



(On beggars). Half of those stories about the prodigious fortunes made by beggars are misers’ calumnies….(but)… shut not thy purse strings against painted distress. Act a charity sometimes. When a poor creature (outwardly and visibly such) comes before thee, do not stay to enquire whether the seven small children in whose name he implores thy assistance have a veritable existence. Rake not into the bowels of unwelcome truth to save a half penny. It is good to

believe him.”






Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.( If you require a monument, look about you)


Oderint dum metuant (Let them hate me, as long as they fear me).






There is no subtler nor surer way of overturning the exisiting basis of society than to debauch the currency. (Quoted by Keynes in “The economic consequences of the Peace” 1919)






First slum of Europe; a role it won’t be hard to win/ With a cast of crooks and tarts.







I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.

Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.

In time the curtain-edges will grow light.

Till then I see what’s really always there:

Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,

Making all thought impossible but how

And where and when I shall myself die.

Arid interrogation: yet the dread

Of dying, and being dead,

Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.


The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse

– The good not done, the love not given, time

Torn off unused – nor wretchedly because

An only life can take so long to climb

Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;

But at the total emptiness for ever,

The sure extinction that we travel to

And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,

Not to be anywhere,

And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.


This is a special way of being afraid

No trick dispels. Religion used to try,

That vast moth-eaten musical brocade

Created to pretend we never die,

And specious stuff that says No rational being

Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing

That this is what we fear – no sight, no sound,

No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,

Nothing to love or link with,

The anaesthetic from which none come round.


And so it stays just on the edge of vision,

A small unfocused blur, a standing chill

That slows each impulse down to indecision.

Most things may never happen: this one will,

And realisation of it rages out

In furnace-fear when we are caught without

People or drink. Courage is no good:

It means not scaring others. Being brave

Lets no one off the grave.

Death is no different whined at than withstood.






Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.

It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,

Have always known, know that we can’t escape,

Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.

Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring

In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring

Intricate rented world begins to rouse.

The sky is white as clay, with no sun.

Work has to be done.

Postmen like doctors go from house to house.



Philip Larkin

29 November 1977



Li Bai (Sung Philospher)


The sword is a cursed thing that the wise man uses only if he must.





“There has been a great slump in Dukes, lately….They have been making speeches lately. One especially expensive Duke made a speech, and all the Tory Press said, “well, now, really, is that the sort of thing we are spending œ250,000 a year on?”. Because a fully equipped Duke costs as much to keep as two Dreadnoughts – and they are just as great a terror – and they last longer. Let them realise what they are doing. They are forcing a revolution – and they will get it” – The Limehouse Speech


“Parties will always disagree on certain vital issues affecting the government of this country; their respective points of view are essentially different; but the questions which are of most vital importance to the well-being of the great community are all questions which are not only capable of being settled by joint action between two great Parties without involving any sacrifice of principle on the part of either, but which can be better settled by such co-operation.” August 1914.


Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is called for. You cannot cross a chasm in two small steps.





“Politicians are like monkeys – the higher they climb the more revolting are the parts they expose.”


“A fully equipped Duke costs as much to keep up as two Dreadnoughts, and Dukes are just as great a terror, and they last longer.”



LOVETT (Reagan adviser)


Good decision nearly always depend on experience. And experience nearly always comes from the effect of bad decisions.






All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the morning to find it was vanity: but dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.


“Nine-tenths of tactics are certain and taught in books: but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals. It can only be ensured by instinct, sharpened by thought practicing the stroke so often that at the crisis it is as natural as a reflex.”





“The spirit of liberty is the spirit that is not too sure that it is right “.





Between East and West in every point there is division.



MacNeice, Louis


“If it is something feasible, obtainable,

Let us dream it now

And pray for a possible land…

Where the altars of sheer power and mere profit

Have fallen into disuse,

Where nobody sees the use

Of buying money and blood at the cost of blood and money

Where the individual no longer squandered

In self assertion, works with the rest…”


Autumn Journal






“Ever since I became capable of thinking for myself. I have clearly seen – and I have said it till my listeners and readers are probably tired of hearing it – that there can be but one true method in the treatment of each human being of either sex, of any colour, and any outward circumstances – to ascertain what are the powers of that being, to cultivate them to the utmost and then to see what action they will find for themselves. This has probably never been done for men, unless in some rare individual cases. It has certainly never been done for women.” Speech to the American Women’s Rights convention, August 1851.



MARX Karl.



History often repeats itself – the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.



MAYS. Benjamin.



It is not a disgrace to reach for the stars; but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.






There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain of success than to take a lead in the introduction of a new order of things….because innovation has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. – The



“Those who become princes…by virtuous means…achieve their princedom with difficulty” ‘ Quelli i quali vei virtuose…diventano Principe, acquisitano il principato con difficoltà’ Il Principe Ch 6




“Sitting still and idleness ruin a brave and noble body in the same way as rust corrupts iron”.



MAZARYK Thomas (Jan’s father)


The best Party member is the bad Party member.


MCGOVERN. George (19th Century poet author and Minister)


I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.




“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved”





For every human problem there is a solution that is neat, plausible – and wrong !






No society is free unless it is governed by two inter-related principles: the first is that no power, but only rights can be regarded as absolute: second that there are frontiers within which men should be inviolable.


Mankind has become so much one family that we cannot ensure our prosperity except by ensuring that of everyone else. If you wish to be happy yourself, you must resign yourself to seeing others happy, too.


Society cannot be free and is very unlikely to be successful for long unless men and women in it have real power to determine their own destiny.


One man’s freedom is often used to fashion another man’s chains.


The more we get out of our world, the less we leave and, in the long run, we shall have to pay our debts at a time that may be very inconvenient to our own survival.


I sit on a man’s back, choking him and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.


The danger of the past is that men become slaves. The danger of the future is that men become robots.






“It is but a small portion of the public business of a country which can be well done or safely attempted by central authorities.” 1861.


“I am not aware that any community has the right to force another to be civilised”

“When has there been a dominion which does not appear natural to them who posessed it?” (The Subjection of Women, 1869)



MOLTKE Count Von

“But where are the guns”

Commenting on yet another (false) German victory paprade ordered by the Kaiser – Unter den Linden. Late 1914.


MOORE Sir Thomas


Pray for me and I for you, that we may merrily meet in heaven. (thelast words of his letter to his daughter Meg)




“If two people on a board agree –none of them isn’t necessary”


The minimum for a board is “a dreamer, a businessman and a son of a bitch”



MORRIS William.



How men fight and lose battles, and the thing they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. – Peter Stansky – “William Morris” P.64






“It is the right and indeed the duty of the Government to inform the public of the facts necessary for the full understanding of its actions and decisions….It is in the national interest that the citizen and the tax payer should be adequately informed by the Government on its administration and policy….The people have a right to know.” – extract from a Government Memorandum marked “SECRET – This is the property of His Majesty’s Government “.






There is no transcendent reality. The idea of good remains indefinable so that human choice may fill it. The sovereign moral concept is freedom. This concept inhibits a top level of human activity since it is the guarantor of the secondary values created by choice. It must be said in its favour that this image of human nature has been the inspiration of Liberalism.





Napoleon once said of himself, ‘Different subjects and different affairs are arranged in my head as in a cupboard. When I wish to interrupt one train of thought, I shut that drawer and open another. Do I wish to sleep? I simply close all the drawers and there I am – asleep”. Margaret Macmillan in Paris 1919, ascribing the same powers of concentration to Lloyd George.


“Four hostile newspapers are to be more feared than a thousand bayonets”


“Dieu me l’a donne. Gard a qui la touché” Pointing to his (iron) crown on his coronation.





“Qualis artifex pereo” – what an artist dies. His last words.






I seem to have been like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now ad then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered about me.



NIEBUHR Rheinhold



God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


It is man’s capacity for justice that makes democracy possible; it is man’s capacity for injustice that makes democracy necessary.







“When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church—and there was nobody left to be concerned.”… The Stuttgart Confession of Guilt. 1946.




“Many too many are born. The state is devised for the superfluous ones.”


“The honourable term for mediocre is, of course, the word “Liberal””



O’CONNELL – Daniel



The blood of human beings makes a poor cement for the temple of liberty.


“He had a smile like the steel plate on a coffin” – supposedly of Peel.



OCCAM – William of



“Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem “ – Occam’s razor.






Instead of raging against their destiny, they have made things tolerable by lowering their standards. (on the working class in the depression)


Place a bomb under the main stand at Twickenham and you would instantly delay the arrival of Fascism in Britain by twenty years !



OUTHWAITE. Liberal MP for Hanley.



War will only end when the economic causes which cause international strife are removed. For war is but an extension of the struggle for existence which has overleaped geographical boundaries. The cause of the internal struggle for existence is also the cause of the international. Such being the case, we must face the truth, that war is the result of economic wrong and that peace is the result of economic justice.




Chance favours the prepared mind.




So Many Different Lengths of Time


Cuanto vive el hombre por fin? Vive mil dias o uno solo?

Una semana o varios siglos? Por cuanto tiempo muere el hombre?

Que quiere decir ‘para siempre’?

Preocupado per este asunto me dedique a aclarar las cosas.



How long is a man’s life, finally?

Is it a thousand days, or only one?

One week, or a few centuries?

How long does a man’s death last?

And what do we mean when we say, ‘gone forever’?


Adrift in such preoccupations, we seek clarification.

We can go to the philosophers,

but they will grow tired of our questions.

We can go to the priests and the rabbis

but they might be too busy with administrations.


*                       *                   *


So, how long does a man live, finally?

And how much does he live while he lives?

We fret, and ask so many questions –

then when it comes to us

the answer is so simple.


A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,

for as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,

for as long as we ourselves live,

holding memories in common, a man lives.


His lover will carry his man’s scent, his touch;

his children will carry the weight of his love.

One friend will carry his arguments,

another will hum his favourite tunes,

another will still share his terrors.


And the days will pass with baffled faces,

then the weeks, then the months,

then there will be a day when no question is asked,

and the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach,

and the puffed faces will calm.

And on that day he will not have ceased,

but will have ceased to be separated by death.

How long does a man live, finally?


A man lives so many different lengths of time.



Brian Patten





PAGNOL. Marcel



“Telle est la vie des hommes. Quelques joies, tres vite effacees par d’inoubliables chagrins” – Le chateau de ma mere.





« Opinions are stronger than armies. Opinions, if they are founded on truth and justice, will, in the end prevail against the bayonets of infantry, the fire of artillery and the charges of cavalry »






A little thing is a little thing. But faithfulness in a little thing, is a great thing.



PITT (1783)



Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human rights. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.






Government, at best, is a necessary evil, at worst an intolerable one; like dress it is the badge of a lost innocence


When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy, neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive…when these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and its government … The Rights of Man.


The people’s enemies take care to represent government as a thing made up of mysteries, which only themselves understood; and they hid from the understanding of the nation, the only thing that was beneficial to know, namely, that government is nothing more than an national association acting on the principles of society….ditto


The contrast of affluence and wretchedness continually meeting and offending th eye, is like dead and living bodies chained together…ditto




Small boys throw stones at frogs in jest. But the frogs do not die in jest; the frogs die in earnest.






We must go into the unknown, the uncertain and insecure, using what reason we have to plan for both security AND freedom …. First commandment of the open society.



PORRITT. Johnathan



The abundance and diversity of the natural world…(is)….the primary revelation of the divine to most men and women.






We can return to the beasts; but if we wish to remain human, then there is only one way, the way into the open society.




There are millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will come soon when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish. (from “An Inspector Calls)




Whoever intervenes in a good cause will have the reward of it, and Whoever intervenes in an evil cause will bear the consequences of it. Allah oversees all things. (Quran 4:85)






“The old glories of the liberal tradition, the passionate belief that political liberties are the essential condition of the great liberties of thought, speech and action, have shrunk to a meaningless constitutionalism which asserts that anything is alright if it is permitted, and nothing is alright if it is forbidden, by an Act of Parliament…(the British had)…a habit of praising their institutions which were inept and of ignoring the character of their race, which is often superb. In the end they will be in danger of losing their character and being left with their institutions: a result disastrous indeed” – Reith lecture “The power and the state” 1951.



ROOSEVELT Theodore (1905)



Our future history will be more determined by our position in the Pacific, facing china, than by our position in the Atlantic, facing Europe.






Governments can err. Presidents do make mistakes. But better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the constant omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.


“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena: whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at leats fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold, timid souls who neither victory nor defeat.”





Envy tends to make everyone worse off


REIS UL ULEMA, Mustfa Ceric



“A lie is so weak that it cannot be imposed – and the truth so strong that it does not need force”



“Isn’t it true then that our life is nothing but sharing the fears and hopes of our times.


….we share the clay from which we all cam and to which we will, once again return.


We share the belief in One God who created us from a single soul and then scattered us like seeds into countless human beings


We share the same father Adam and the same mother Eve.


We shear the air we breathe and the rise of the sun we see every day.


We share Abrahams faith and Noah’s Ark of salvation


We share the love of the Virgin Mary (Maryam) and respect for her son Jesus (Isa a.s).


We share the true stories of Moses and his divine leadership of his people in Sinai.


We share the clear word of the Holy Qur’an and the exemplary life of the Messenger Muhammad.


We share the joy of good tidings and the sorrow of horrors


We share the pleasures of our successes and the pain of our failures.


We share the humanity of our hearts and minds”

(speech at the cermenoy of the 2003 Felix Houphouet –Boigny Prize 22 Sep 2004).


Bosnian prayer


“We pray to thee Almighty God,

May grief become hope,

May revenge become justice

May a Mother’s tears become a prayer,

That Srebrenica may never happen again –

To anyone anywhere.


Our God

Do not let success deceive us

Nor failure take us to despair !

Always remind us that failure is the temptation

That precedes success!


Our God

Teach us that tolerance

Is the highest degree of power.

And the desire for revenge

The first sign of weakness.


Our God

If you deprive us of our property,

Give us hope.

If you grant us success,

Give us also the will to overcome defeat!

If you take from us the blessing of health,

Provide us with the blessing of faith.


Our God,

If we sin against people

Give us the strength for apology!

And if people sin against us

Give us the strength for forgiveness!


Our God,

If we forget thee,

Do not forget us !







“Hypocrisy is the respect which vice pays to virtue”






We pardon to the extent that we love.






Hundreds of people can talk, for one who can think. And thousands of people can think, for one who can see.



RUSSELL Bertrand


Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind


Patriotism is the willingness to kill or be killed for trivial reasons.






If the English race were suddenly transported from the inferno to paradise, the subject of their conversation would still be the good old days.



Schopenhauer Arthur:


“Thoughts reduced to paper are generally nothing more than the

footprints of a man walking in the sand. It is true that we see the

path he has taken; but to know what he saw on the way, we must use our

own eyes.”






The best aid to give is intellectual aid – a gift of useful knowledge….the gift of material goods makes people dependent, but the gift of knowledge makes them free.





“Oh it is excellent to have a giant’s strength,

But it is tyrannous to use it like a giant” Isabella “Measure for measure”


“Daffodils that come before the swallows dare and take the winds of March with beauty.”







If you are going to tell people the truth, you had better make them laugh at the same time, or they will kill you.


Patriotism is the conviction that the country is superior to all others because you were born in it.






I said the Honourable Gentleman is a liar and I am sorry for it. And the Honourable Gentleman can put the punctuation where he chooses….In the House of Commons.






If you want, I will spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusory – property and position. All that is gained at the expense of your soul, decade after decade and is confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life – don’t be afraid of misfortune and do not yearn after happiness; it is, after all, the same. The bitter doesn’t last for ever and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. It is enough if you don’t freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don’t claw at your insides. If your back isn’t broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, both eyes see and if both ears hear, then whom should you envy ? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes, purify your heart – and prize above all else in the world those who love you and wish you well. – “Island to Island”.



“What are we to do? Someday our descendants will describe our several generations as generations of driveling do-nothings. First we submissively allowed them to massacre us by the millions, and

then with devoted concern we tended the murderers in their prosperous old age.


What are we to do if the great Russian tradition of penitence is incomprehensible and absurd to them? What are we to do if the animal terror of hearing even one-hundredth part of all they subjected others to outweighs in their hearts any inclination to Justice? If they cling greedily to the harvest of benefits they have watered with the blood of those who perished? It is clear enough that those men who turned the handle of the meat grinder even as late as 1937 are no longer young. They are fifty to eighty years old. They have lived the best years of their lives prosperously, well nourished and comfortable, so that it is too late for any kind of equal retribution as far as they are concerned.


But let us be generous. We will not shoot them. We will not pour salt water into them, nor bury them in bedbugs, nor bridle them into a “swan dive,” nor keep them on sleepless stand-up for a week, nor kick them with jackboots, nor beat them with rubber truncheons, nor squeeze their skulls in iron rings, nor push them into a cell so that they lie atop one another like pieces of baggage – we will not do any of the things they did. But for the sake of our country and our children we have the duty to seek them all out and bring them all to trial! Not to put them on trial so much, as their crimes. And to compel each one of them to announce loudly:


“Yes, I was an executioner and a murderer!”


And if these words were spoken in our country only one quarter of a million times (a just proportion, if we are not to fall behind West Germany), would it, perhaps, be enough?


It is unthinkable in the twentieth century to fail to distinguish between what constitutes an abominable atrocity that must be prosecuted and what constitutes that “past” which ought not to

be stirred up.”


We have to condemn publicly the very idea that some people have the right to repress others. In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand-fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are there-by ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations. It is for this reason, and not because of the “weakness of indoctrinal work,”‘ that they are growing up “indifferent.” Young people are acquiring the conviction that foul deeds are never punished on earth, that they always bring prosperity.


It is going to be uncomfortable, horrible, to live in such a country !” Gulag Archipeligo.






Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul destroying or a degradation of man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the wellbeing of future generations; so long as you have not shown it to be “uneconomic”, you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow and prosper. – Des Voeux memorial lecture.


Those who fight nature and win – always end up finding themselves on the losing side

We must do what we perceive to be the right thing and not bother our heads or burden our souls with whether we are going to be successful. Because if we don’t do the right thing, we’ll be doing the wrong thing – and then we’ll be part of the disease not part of the cure – “Small is Beautiful”



SEATTLE Chief (on selling land to the US Government.)



How can you buy and sell the sky ? We do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. How can you buy them from us ? Every part of the earth is sacred to my people, holy in their memory and experience. We know the white man does not understand our ways. He is stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his friend, but his enemy and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He kidnaps the earth for his children. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind a desert. If all the beasts were gone, we would die of a great loneliness of spirit, for

whatever happens to the beasts, happens also to us. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the children of the earth.





To me it seems such a dreadful indignity, to have a soul controlled by geography – on patriotism






“the wages of labour are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives….The progressive state is, in reality, the cheerful and hearty state to all different orders of society…That a little more plenty than ordinary may render some workmen idle, cannot well be doubted; but that it should have this effect upon the greater part, or that men in general should work better when they are ill-fed, when they are disheartened than when they are in good spirits, when they are frequently sick than when they are generally in good health, seems not very probable”.. The Wealth of Nations.



Swift Johnathan


“We have just enough religion to make us hate one another but not enough to make us love one another”.





England, like that other great empire of Rome, is dead. Like Rome, it survives as a legal system and a literature. It has become a place of the mind…..Article in the Guardian.”The daze of Empire” 11/1/95.




“The Balkans, which in Turkish “mountains” runs roughly from the Danube to the Dardanelles, from Istria to Istanbul, is a term for the little lands of Hungary, Rumania, Jugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and part of Turkey….It is, or was, a gay peninsula filled with sprightly people who ate peppered food, drank strong liquors, wore flamboyant clothes, loved and murdered easily and had a splendid talent for starting wars. Less imaginative Westerners looked down on them with secret envy, sniffing at their royalty, scoffing at their pretensions and fearing their savage terrorists. Karl Marx called them “ethnic trash”. I, as footlose youngster in my twenties, adored them”. A long row of candles



SUMMERS, Lawrence (One time Harvard President)


In the whole history of the world, no-one has ever washed a rented car”.




Pessimum facinus auderunt pauci, plures vellent, omnes paterentur.


The worst crimes are dared by the few, willed by more and tolerated by all.



TAGORE Rabindranath


“Let me not pray to be sheltered from

dangers, but to be fearless in facing them.


Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it


Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield,

but to my own strength.


Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved, but hope for the patience to win my freedom.”


Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling your mercy in my success alone; but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure…….(Fruit gathering.)


“We are all the more one, because we are many

For we have made ample room for love in the gap where we are sundered

Our unlikeness reveals its breadth of beauty radiant with one common life

Like mountain peaks in the morning sun” – Unity in Diversity





We have, in this country, three unspeakably invaluable things. Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the prudence never to seek to practise either.



TEILHARD Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.


The age of nations is passed

The task before us now

If we would not perish

Is to build the earth.



TAYLOR Harriett (J.S.Mill’s partner)


Concerning the fitness, then, of women for politics there can be no question but the dispute is more likely to turn on the fitness of politics for women. – 1831





It is a commonplace that the characteristic virtue of Englishmen is their power of sustained practical activity; and their characteristic vice, a reluctance to test the quality of that activity by reference to principles. They are incurious as to theory, take fundamentals for granted and are more interested in the state of the roads, than their place on the map – The Aquisitive Society






“And so he gave the goal of his life unto the Commonwealth. And achieved thereby for his memory, praise that will never die. And with it, that greatest of all sepulchres. Not that in which his earthly bones are laid. But rather, as a home, a home in the minds of men.” – Peloponesian Wars, Book III


“I have no wish to make a long speech on subjects familiar to you all…What I want to do is, in the first place, to discuss the spirit in which we faced our trials. After that I shall speak in praise of the dead. //Let me say that our system of Government does not copy the institutions of our neighbours. It is more the case of our being a model to others, than of our imitating anyone else. Our constitution is called a democracy, because power is in the hands, not of a minority, but of the whole people. When it is a question of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of responsibility, what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability that a man possesses…And just as our political life is free and open, so is our day-to-day life in our relations with each other…We are free and tolerant in our private lives; but in public affairs, we keep to the law. This is because it commands our deep respect. //We give our obedience to those whom we put in positions of authority, and we obey the laws themselves, especially those which are for the protection of the oppressed and those unwritten laws which it is an acknowledged shame to break./ /Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extravagance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft. //We make friends by doing good to others, not by receiving good from them…When we do kindnesses to others, we do not do them out of any calculation of profit or loss; we do them without afterthought, relying on our free liberality…I declare that in my opinion, each single one of our citizens, in all the manifold aspects of life, is able to show himself the rightful lord and owner of his own person, and do this, moreover, with exceptional grace and exceptional versatility.” – Pericles’ funeral oration.




…a certain class of dishonesty, dishonesty magnificent in its proportions, and climbing into high places, has become at the same time so rampant and so splendid that men and women will be taught to feel that dishonesty, if it can become splendid, will cease to be abominable….

After the banking collapse




History is just the natural selection of accidents.




There are no great men. There are only ordinary men who rise to meet great challenges.





“It takes me two weeks to write a good impromptu speech.”


“Loyalty to a petrified opinion never broke a chain or fired a human soul”


“The lie is a swift little thing. Your average lie can get half way round the whole world, before the truth has even got its boots on”





Government needs butchers as well as shepherds.




“What you think depends on where you sit”



WEISEL Elie (survivor of the holocaust)



“It is not because I cannot explain that you won’t understand. It is because you won’t understand, that I cannot explain”



WELLINGTON Arthur, Duke Of.


“I am against these things. They will enable the damn people to move about” – on being shown one of the first trains.



WEST Rebecca


“If it be a law that those who are born into the world with

a preference for the agreeable over the disagreeable are born

also with an impulse towards defeat, then the whole world is a vast

Kosovo, an abominable blood–clogged plain, where people who love go out

to fight people who hate, and betray their cause to their enemies, so

that loving is persecuted for immense tracts of history, far

longer than its little periods of victory.”


“I hate the corpses of empires; they stink as nothing else” Black Lamb and Grey Falcon






“History becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe”…..1921.



WOOTTON. Barbara, Baroness.



Again and again I have had the satisfaction of seeing the laughable idealism of one generation evolve into the acceptable commonplaces of the next.



WILDE. Oscar.



Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.



WHITTIER. John Greenleaf.



Yes- let them gather – Summon forth the pledged philanthropy of earth – From every land whose hills have heard the bugle blast of freedom waking. – World Anti-slavery convention. 1840.



WHITEHEAD. Alfred North



Its the first step of wisdom, to recognise that the major advances in civilisation are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur.






“We did not march as a marshalled army towards a distant obelisk. We traveled the highways and byways, gathering friends and flowers as we went.” From his last letter to a friend, written a few days before his death, who had asked him how he had conquered slavery.






Whereof you have nothing to say, thereof you should stay silent.




Learning Mandarin the easy way – April 2012


Learning Mandarin the easy way


The lingua franca of modern China is not actually called “Mandarin” (which comes from the bad old days before Communism and refers to the language spoken by the Mandarins or Court servants). The politically correct word nowadays is “Pu Tong Hua” (often written with the three words run together) – meaning the common or ordinary language.


But whatever you call it, this is now arguably, after English of course, the world’s most important language. And not because it is the common language spoken by the worlds biggest country in terms of population (1.3 billion now and rising fast – or nearly a quarter of the world’s population). Though that’s one reason, for it means that, if you can speak Chinese and English, then you can speak to around half of the entire humanity of our planet.


But now, China is more than big – it is also rising. There may be different views about whether this will happen quickly or slowly. I personally think that before China can achieve her full potential, she will have to democratise her society, just as she has liberalised her economy and this may be more difficult for her than many understand. But whether China rises quickly or over a longer period there are very few now who would not accept that she will be one of the major global powers of our age with interests in every part of the world and a global reach to go with this.


So this is a great language, with great potential.


But, grammatically at least, it is not a difficult language. Indeed there is really very little grammar in Pu Tong Hua.


The difficulties a foreigner experiences with Chinese are more human rather than intellectual.


And the first comes from the language’s beauty.


There is a wonderful mellifluous musical underpinning to Chinese ,which exists in no other language – indeed the language only works if you understand its music – or tones. This is because this is a monosyllabic language with the differentiation between one word and another being entirely dependent on the tone in which it is said (there are four tones in Pu Tong Hua, seven in Cantonese). And some of the tones even change according to their juxtaposition with others. The effect, when added to a great richness of regional accent (in Peking they role their “r” and slide their elisions in a way that would make any Devonian proud) adds up to a language which is immensely pleasing to the ear. Often when I hear Chinese visitors speaking Pu Tong Hua on the streets of London, I will hang around them for a bit, just for the pleasure of hearing them talk.


Learning to apply these tones accurately can be tricky for a foreigner at first and sometimes leads to hilarious mistakes (I once accidentally asked a very proper Chinese lady at a dinner party if she had ever sat on a flying penis – instead of what I meant to ask her – if she had ever flown on an aircraft!). But once you have them they become almost naturally.


To learn spoken Pu Tong Hua, you need a good ear (though not necessarily a musical one – I am hopelessly unmusical) and an ability to mimic.


To learn the written language, what you chiefly need is a good memory


Here the problem is that written Chinese is not spelt, it is drawn. Western written languages (and indeed most world ones) depend on words being spelt in letters from a alphabet. But in Chinese there is no alphabet. Each word is represented by a different picture – or pictogram, to use the proper technical term. This means that to read or write for a newspaper like, say the Sun, you would need to know perhaps six thousand pictograms – for The Times you would need ten thousand. And an educated Chinese would know upwards of forty thousand.


Learning these can be quite a sweat (though there are certain logical structures and simplifications which help the process). And, at the end of the day you do not NEED to know to write in order to be able to speak.


But there are advantages in doing so.


The first is that written Chinese is the same for all Chinese dialects. In this respect the pictograms perform the same function as Arabic numerals in European languages. The word for the number “four” is different French, German and English. But the written Arabic numeral means the same in all three. In Chinese this principle applies to pictograms across the whole language. Which means that, though a Pu Tong Hua speaker may not be able to speak or understand another Chinese dialect, they can use the written language and communicate perfectly.


The second advantage of learning written Chinese is its beauty. Indeed calligraphy is recognised by many Chinese as their highest form of art. Mao Tse Tung was a great soldier, a passable poet, a charismatic leader and a powerful and, in his time much respected Head of the Chinese state. But it is a calligrapher that he was and remains most admired.


But in the end, though the beauty of spoken Chinese and, especially of its written script, are good reasons for learning this language, they are not as important as the fact that speaking Mandarin or Pu Tong Hua, will give you contact with one of the world’s greatest civilisations, richest histories, most populous states and most important nations in the new world that is now emerging.

Languages – the Guardian 9 Sep 2014

The Guardian – Languages


When people ask me how many languages I speak I say I have forgotten six. That’s the problem with languages. If you don’t get the chance to use them you can use them. But with a little practice they soon come back and you can once again enjoy the magic of communication with other people in their own language and on their own terms.


As human beings we are above all, communicating animals. That’s what we do best and rom the first moments of our lives its what we do first with our brains and most with fellows. Language is, quite literally the stuff of life. And the more you can speak of other people’s languages, the more you can be part of their lives and enrich your own.


Actually I was a disaster at languages at school. I obtained, as I recall, 5 out of 200 in O level French – which is probably an all time record. Badly taught, I could never see the point. But then as a young Royal Marine to Singapore in the early 1960’s (as a batchelor I should stress) that I was told that in Malay there was one word for the phrase “lets take off our clothes and tell dirty stories”. Suddenly I saw the point. I never found the word, by the way. But in the process of looking learnt my first language. When I was sent to fight in the little jungle war in Borneo in the mid-60’s I was the only person in the whole Commando Brigade who could speak the local language. So was sent up to the deep jungle where few white men had been since the Second World War. I was living among the Dayak people. They still had dried human heads hanging from the rafters in the Long Houses in which they lived. I took one look at them and decided I would feel altogether more comfortable, if I knew their language too.


Mandarin Chinese came next. Though this is not a language you can learn in your spare time. I spent two and a half years as full time student, living amongst the Chinese in Hong Kong – and learnt the hazards of thinking you know more of someone else’s language than you actually do. One day, at a banquet with my fellow students and teachers I tried to make small talk with my female Chinese teacher. “Have you ever flown in an aircraft” I asked. Or at least that was what I thought I asked. In fact, muddling my Chinese tones, what came out of my mouth was “Have you by any chance sat upon a flying penis?”. I was utterly perplexed when everyone collapsed in mirth around me. But then I didn’t come to learn that word for another six months.

Simon Jenkins – letter to the Guardian 8 August 2007





The Editor

The Guardian

119 Farringdon Road





Wednesday, 08 August 2007





Simon Jenkins’ ability to break wind at length on your pages provides one of the Guardian’s most enjoyable and readable high points. His seeming aversion to ever expressing a modulated opinion somehow does not appear to diminish the pleasure.


But enthusiasm to make a point is not an excuse for inaccuracies.


In his piece yesterday he said I had “returned recently from Kabul consumed with imperial zeal”. In fact I have never been to Kabul.


As for “imperial zeal”, which Sir Simon spends much of his article attaching to me and railing against, if he had read my recent book “Swords and Ploughshares” before commencing bombardment, he would have found it dedicated to the proposition that the era of imperial intervention is over (I call it “gun boat intervention”) and that we have to find a different way of doing things.


Finally, he accuses me of saying on your pages that success in Afghanistan was “probable” (his quotation marks). I said no such thing. In fact the word “probable” does not even appear in my article. What I actually said was that failure was likely, unless the policy radically changed. There is a difference between the two.


We all know that, as the Guardian’s highly successful resident controversialist, Sir Simon’s job (and nature it seems) is to relish failure more than success. But he would be more powerful and no less enjoyable if he took a little more care to be a little more accurate.








Paddy Ashdown

Vane Cottage

Norton sub Hamdon

Somerset TA14 6SG


Independent 16 Sep 2009

When did you become a Liberal, and wasn’t that considered bad form in the Marines?

Actually, I become a Liberal when I was at the Foreign Office, which was after I served in the Royal Marines. I wrote about this in my autobiography A Fortunate Life, which received extremely favourable reviews in all newspapers (except, alas the Independent). A Fortunate Life is available from all good bookstores at £15 – and very good value at the price!

What’s the biggest regret of your political career?

Not becoming Prime Minister.

Did Tony Blair suggest to you in 1997 that if you worked closely with him, you would get proportional representation? You could have killed the Tories once and for all.

Yes to both. There were discussions. It was a time when we could have realigned the forces of British politics for good and brought I fair votes which would have given the voters more power and would in the future prevent the kind of scandals we are seeing in our politics now .

When did you first suspect that Charlie Kennedy had a problem, and ought to resign?

I was in Bosnia at the time as High Representative overseeing the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. So I was unaware of the problems Charles was experiencing.
Why should anybody have a place in our legislature who wasn’t elected by the people? Isn’t it time to abolish appointed Lords?

They shouldn’t and it is. The House of Lords is an archaic institution. The either get there through the patronage of the Prime Minister or of your great grandmother slept with the King. You should not exercise power in a democracy except through the ballot box. I only agreed to go to the Lords so that I could use my vote to abolish it. We should replace it with a Senate elected by proportional representation, representing the regions of Britain . But the changes we need in our political system go far beyond simply electing the upper chamber. We need to change the way we vote to end the scandal of MPs with jobs for life in safe seats, we need the right to sack MPs who have had their fingers in the till, and to take big money out of politics so that the Ashcrofts of this world can’t buy their influence. While we’re at it, it’s probably worth making sure everyone who makes laws in this country pays full tax in this country too. We need a written constitution and fixed term Parliaments. And we need to make sure Westminster does less – only those things which are genuinely national and that much of its power should be handed down for the communities and nations of our country to decide. And if Westminster did less it would probably do it better and with about half the number of MPs. And if we made more decisions closer to the people then decision making would be better there, too. What we need in short is a new Great Reform Act for Britain

Do you think you would have done better than you did as leader if you had the advantages of the Iraq war, as Kennedy had, or TV debates, as Clegg has?

I would have killed (and apparently I was the only MP trained to do so) for the opportunity Nick Clegg has for national debates. But what I am convinced of is that the more people see Nick Clegg in these debates and have a chance to compare him to Mr Brown and Labour who have so failed Britain and Mr Cameron who stands for nothing I can detect, the more they will like what they see. I think the British public have concluded that Mr Brown’s Labour deserve to lose this election, but Mr Cameron’s Tories don’t deserve to win it. That gives Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems a chance as never before and the TV debates will highlight this.
Given the Bosnian people didn’t elect you, wasn’t your time as their Supreme Leader akin to an Emperor’s reign?
I believe the actual title was High Representative, although Supreme Leader does have a certain ring to it. Seriously, the comparison to an emperor simply doesn’t stand up. I was appointed, Bosnia as the international represntative which was required under the terms of the peace in Bosnia agreed by all Parties. And when I was there, every law I proposed had to be agreed by the Bosnian Parliaments and every legislative decision was subject to the agreement of the Bosnian courts. I was not just responsible for my actions to the Security Council of the UN and the international community, but also ultimately to the consent Bosnian people themselves. Doesn’t sound much like being a Supreme Leader to me !

If Afghanistan isn’t going to be a democracy in the next decade, and if the people don’t want us there, shouldn’t we leave?

I don’t agree that the people don’t want us there. The evidence from Afghanistan is that they overwhelmingly do. In the recent Presidential elections in Afghanistan, both the leading candidates stood on the basis of support for the international community and got more than 85% of the vote. And poll after poll consistently shows that 65% plus of Afghans support the international presence and only 5% want the return of the Taliban. Of course it’s not going to turn into a European style democracy over night, but we have leave some kind of stability there. The form of governance has to be rooted at in some part on popular legitimacy. Having said that, it’s true that the central government is failing and we need to work with the grain of local communities and the tribal structures that have existed there for centuries, particularly in the south. But you are quite right. The moment the Afghan people do not want us there, we should leave and would have to

Can you now confirm that the argument that our mission in Afghanistan has anything to do with the safety of British citizens is wholly spurious?

I don’t buy this at all. The situation in Afghanistan is directly related to our security. In a world of global security threats, just because a place is far away doesn’t mean it won’t impact on our security. That was the revelation of 9/77 and 7/7 and the Madrid bombs and the Bali bombs etc etc. If Afghanistan fails it will have a devastating knock on effect in Pakistan, it will release Al Qaeda back into the ungoverned spaces of Afghanistan that it held before and it will deal a serious blow to the credibility and stability of Nato, which remains one of the pillars of our security. There’s a huge amount at stake.

What’s the biggest regret of your political career?

Not becoming Prime Minister of course!

Did Tony Blair suggest to you in 1997 that if you worked closely with him, you would get proportional representation? You could have killed the Tories once and for all.
Is David Cameron the most impressive Tory leader since Churchill?
David Cameron isn’t even the most impressive Tory in the current Tory party. I find the idea of comparing him with Churchill so absurd as to be laughable. In David Cameron we have a man who went straight from Oxford to the back rooms of Tory central office, the highlight of which was his role in the catastrophe of Black Wednesday, and then straight into PR. And not just any kind of PR, PR for the media industry. His real world experience is seven years as the spin doctor’s spin doctor. He’s then parachuted into a safe seat, from which he writes for Michael Howard the most right wing manifesto his party has had for generations. His greatest success for the Tories has been giving it a cosmetic makeover. Most impressive since Churchill? Come on.

When did you first suspect that Charlie Kennedy had a problem, and ought to resign?

How many seats, roughly, in the south west and elsewhere, do you think [Lord] Ashcroft’s money will cost the Lib Dems?
None. Never underestimate the resilience of Lib Dem MPs. The Conservatives are spending vast amounts of money on glossy leaflets and such, but they are taking on popular local MPs with reputations for being dedicated and hard-working and really fighting for their local area. That’s what you get with Lib Dems. My colleague and next door neighbour David Heath is a great example. He was elected in Somerset and Frome in 1997 with a wafer thin majority and at every election since the Tories have pulled out all the stops to take his seat. Yet every time the voters are asked if they want David to remain as their MP, they say yes. And don’t underestimate the intelligence of voters in their South West, it’ll take more than a few gargantuan airbrushed posters of David Cameron’s face to persuade them to vote Tory. I dare say they won’t take too kindly to the suggestion they are being bought by a man who has spent a decade making laws while refusing to pay his full taxes in the UK either.

Are you still fluent in Mandarin? And do you wish you’d gone to University?
Yes, although I’m probably a little rusty for lack of practice. It’s the most beautiful, melodic language and now, after English, the most important in the world. If you can speak English and Chinese you can speak to half of all humanity. As for university, I think I’ve done pretty well without it.

Has the liberal cause advanced or receded under Labour?
The country is less equal than it was in 1997. There is a vast gap between the life expectancy of those born in poorer areas and wealthier ones. The opportunities you will receive in life are still in many ways dependent on how rich your parents are. The Government has become increasingly more centralised and presidential, with the state dictating so much of what we can and can’t do, not least through the more than 4,000 new laws the Labour Party has created. Billions upon billions of pounds of your money and my money has been handed over to banks after years of unregulated risk taking and profligacy. We have an unfair tax system and a discredited political system. I could go on. Labour has done some very good things – the minimum wage, Surestart, civil partnerships – but under their stewardship there can be no doubt that our great nation has not become a more liberal place. The sad truth is that, measured against the great promises of Tony Blair, Labour has let us down

When are you going to retire?
You know, the thought has never crossed my mind. I’m not much good at pipe and slippers. And anyway I am enjoying myself too much helping Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems and writing my seventh book – it’s a thriller so hold onto your hats!



Independent 21 Apr 2014

Independent 21 Apr 2014

“On a huge hill,

Cragged and steep, Truth stands, and he that will

Reach her, about must and about must go,

And what the hill’s suddenness resists, win so.

Yet strive so that before age, death’s twilight,

Thy soul rest, for none can work in that night.”

John Donne Satire 3


Since the age of sixteen, I have always had a copy of the complete poems of John Donne’s, somewhere close at hand.


For me, sixteen was a watershed year. I had not been a good student – at best strugglingly average, to the despair of my father. In truth the class-room interested me far less than the rugby pitch, the athletics field and the girls at the local Bedford High School. One evening a friend I admired, but thought quite weird persuaded me, against my strong disinclination, to go with him the School poetry society run by one of the masters, who I regarded as equally weird, John Eyre. The evening changed my life. For that night I walked through a door, opened by Donne to a world of poetry and literature I had never even known existed and have spent a life-time joyously exploring ever since.


The moment may have been life changing for me. But it was not for John Eyre.


I know this for many years later, with others among his more distinguished students, we gave him lunch at the Reform Club. Among those present were contemporaries of mine – Michael Brunson the ITV political journalist, Professor Quentin Skinner the renowned intellectual historian and many others ranging from Ambassadors, to captains of industry, to senior civil servants. He had words for them all, reminding them of the successes and faults and the major parts they had played under his direction in the School play (I had only been a wordless monk in Auden’s “The Ascent of F6” and a soldier in Macbeth entrusted with the single line “Sound the alarums without”). Finally he came to me (I was at the time the Leader of the Lib Dems). He said simply “Ashdown – ah yes. You surprised me.”


Later, when as a young Royal Marines officer, I was involved in the little war in Borneo, I carried a leather bound copy of Donne’s poems which my wife gave me everywhere I went, until the ravages of jungle damp and termites dismantled it into a collection of mouldy pages I had to abandon. It has been replaced many times since. My current copy – The Penguin edition, edited by A.J Smith – is on my iPhone and I Pad.


Of course Donne, though the greatest poet, is not the only one. But he is the one who opened the pages for me to all the others – and can still take my breath away when I least expect it.