John F Kennedy famously said that all mothers want their sons to be president, however, they don’t want their kids to become politicians. Politicians are mocked relentlessly by those they represent. They are accused of having a distant relationship with the truth (“they tell lies, even when they don’t have to,” quipped the late Gore Vidal of politicians) and of being everything from Machiavellian scumbags to outright thieves.
But don’t bring out your violins just yet. This breed are a tough bunch, just as capable of giving it as they are of taking it (they can be particularly scathing about members of their own party). After the recent, lacklustre and hardly engrossing campaign fought by Britain’s political parties, it seems apt to show some of Britain’s’ politicians, past and present, at their most entertaining.
1. Winston Churchill
“A sheep in sheep’s clothing.”
Churchill’s jibe about his labour rival Clement Atlee
2. Harold Wilson
“Tony Benn is the only man I know who immatures with age.”
British Prime Minister Harold Wilson on his Labour colleague Tony Benn, his then industry secretary. The two had a "rock bottom" relationship, according to Benn.
3. Gordon Brown
“Give up the PR and start being a PM.”
Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the then leader of the opposition, David Cameron.
4. Norman Tebbit
“A windbag whose incoherent speeches spring from an incoherent mind.”
Conservative Norman Tebbit’s description of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock. Kinnock resigned as leader of the Labour party after it suffered its fourth general election defeat.
5. Tom Watson
“You are a miserable pipsqueak of a man.”
Labour MP Tom Watson’s description of Conservative MP Michael Gove. He was asked by the speaker of the House to withdraw the comment, which he did.
6. Frank Dobson
“When Edwina Currie goes to the dentist, he needs the anaesthetic.”
Labour’s then health secretary Frank Dobson’s not very charitable comment about the outspoken Conservative MP Edwina Currie
7. Boris Johnson
“A mixture of Harry Houdini and a greased piglet. He is barely human in his elusiveness. Nailing Blair is like trying to pin jelly to a wall.”
Recently elected Conservative MP Boris Johnson’s description of Tony Blair, of whom he is not a fan. Johnson, who has form when it comes to dishing out insults, has offended many, including the leader of the Scottish National Party (he referred to her as ‘Lady Macbeth’) and the people of Papau New Guinea, albeit inadvertently - he offered the following apology: “Add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apologies.”
8. Vince Cable
“From Stalin to Mr Bean”
The recently deselected Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable describing the former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
9. David Cameron
“I often say to my children, ‘No need to go to the Natural History Museum to see a dinosaur, come to the House of Commons at about half past twelve’.”
The recently re-elected David Cameron, referring to Labour MP Dennis Skinner.
10. Nick Clegg
“This is something out of ‘The Thick of It’.”
Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, describing the office of the then Education Secretary Michael Gove.
The above list is proof that politicians can be more interesting than we’ve been led to believe of late.
Do you have any sympathy for how politicians are portrayed? Share your comments below.