10 of the best Denis Healey quotes

3rd October, 2015 6:08 pm


Denis Healey passed away today, aged 98. He was a giant of Labour politics, sitting in Parliament for 62 years until his death, having become a peer in 1992. He once told a reporter: “A statesman is a dead politician. I am in the home of the living dead which is betwixt and between: The House of Lords.”

He will be remembered as an eloquent and quotable politician – here’s another 10 of his best lines.

“First law on holes. When you are in one, stop digging.”

“Once we cut defence expenditure to the extent where our security is imperilled, we have no houses, we have no hospitals, we have no schools. We have a heap of cinders.” – As Defence Secretary, 1969

“I start with the measures which the Government announced last Thursday, and which are the immediate occasion of today’s debate, and to which the right hon. Gentleman finally came round – a trifle nervously, I thought – after ploughing through that tedious and tendentious farrago of moth-eaten cuttings presented to him by the Conservative Research Department. I must say that part of his speech was rather like being savaged by a dead sheep.” On Geoffrey Howe, 1978

“Squeeze property speculators until the pips squeak.” – Often misremembered as “squeeze the rich”, 1974

“It has never been my nature, I regret to admit to the House, to turn the other cheek.” – Speech in the Commons, 1974

“No Government can produce an economic miracle. An economic miracle depends on people on the shop floor, in the board room, in the sales office, working a bit harder and more efficiently than they have worked in the past.” – As Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1976

“Wrapping herself in a Union Jack and exploiting the services of our soldiers, sailors and airmen and hoping to get away with it. The Prime Minister who glories in slaughter…is at this very moment lending the military dictatorship in Buenos Aires millions of pounds to buy weapons, including weapons made in Britain, to kill British servicemen with, and that is an act of stupefying hypocrisy.” – On Margaret Thatcher, 1983

“I think they’re bastards. But, like the fascists did at one time, they can start to shift politics.” – On UKIP, 2013

“The election was lost not in the three weeks of the campaign but in the three years which preceded it…in that period the Party itself acquired a highly unfavourable public image, based on disunity, extremism, crankiness and general unfitness to govern.” – On the 1983 election

“And who is the Mephistopheles behind this shabby Faust Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe? To quote her own backbenchers, the Great She-elephant, She-who-must-be-obeyed, the Catherine the Great of Finchley, the Prime Minister herself.” – On Margaret Thatcher, 1984

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