David Lloyd George

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A politician is a person with whose politics you don't agree; if you agree with him he's a statesman.

David Lloyd George (17 January 1863 - 26 March 1945) was a British politician, who served as Prime Minister of United Kingdom (1916 - 1922).

Sourced

The question will be asked whether five hundred men, ordinary men, chosen accidentally from among the unemployed, should override the judgment of millions of people who are engaged in the industry which makes the wealth of the country.
  • The House of Lords is not the watchdog of the constitution; it is Mr Balfour’s poodle. It fetches and carries for him. It barks for him. It bites anyone that he sets it on to.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (21 December 1908)
  • This, Mr. Emmot, is a war Budget. It is for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness. I cannot help hoping and believing that before this generation has passed away, we shall have advanced a great step towards that good time, when poverty, and the wretchedness and human degradation which always follows in its camp, will be as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested its forests.
    • Budget speech (29 April 1909)
File:German dead at Verdun.jpg
The correspondents don't write and the censorship wouldn't pass the truth. What they do send is not the war, but just a pretty picture of the war with everybody doing gallant deeds. The thing is horrible and beyond human nature to bear and I feel I can't go on with this bloody business.
  • The Landlord is a gentleman ... who does not earn his wealth. He has a host of agents and clerks that receive for him. He does not even take the trouble to spend his wealth. He has a host of people around him to do the actual spending. He never sees it until he comes to enjoy it. His sole function, his chief pride, is the stately consumption of wealth produced by others.
    • Speech, Limehouse (30 July 1909)
  • 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.
    • Speech, Newcastle (9 October 1909)
At eleven o’clock this morning came to an end the cruellest and most terrible War that has ever scourged mankind. I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars.
  • The question will be asked whether five hundred men, ordinary men, chosen accidentally from among the unemployed, should override the judgment of millions of people who are engaged in the industry which makes the wealth of the country.
    • On the peers of the House of Lords, in a speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909)
Liberty has restraints but no frontiers.
  • Four spectres haunt the Poor — Old Age, Accident, Sickness and Unemployment. We are going to exorcise them. We are going to drive hunger from the hearth. We mean to banish the workhouse from the horizon of every workman in the land.
    • Speech in Reading, (1 January 1910)
  • Personally I am a sincere advocate of all means which would lead to the settlement of international disputes by methods such as those which civilization has so successfully set up for the adjustment of differences between individuals.
    But I am also bound to say this — that I believe it is essential in the highest interests, not merely of this country, but of the world, that Britain should at all hazards maintain her place and her prestige amongst the Great Powers of the world. Her potent influence has many a time been in the past, and may yet be in the future, invaluable to the cause of human liberty. It has more than once in the past redeemed Continental nations, who are sometimes too apt to forget that service, from overwhelming disaster and even from national extinction. I would make great sacrifices to preserve peace. I conceive that nothing would justify a disturbance of international good will except questions of the gravest national moment. But if a situation were to be forced upon us in which peace could only be preserved by the surrender of the great and beneficent position Britain has won by centuries of heroism and achievement, by allowing Britain to be treated where her interests were vitally affected as if she were of no account in the Cabinet of nations, then I say emphatically that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure.
    • Speech (21 July 1911)
  • I listened last night, at a dinner given to Philip Gibbs on his return from the front, to the most impressive and moving description from him of what the war really means, that I have heard. Even an audience of hardened politicians and journalists were strongly affected. If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know. The correspondents don't write and the censorship wouldn't pass the truth. What they do send is not the war, but just a pretty picture of the war with everybody doing gallant deeds. The thing is horrible and beyond human nature to bear and I feel I can't go on with this bloody business.
    • In a private conversation, as quoted by C. P. Scott in his diary (27 December 1917)
The finest eloquence is that which gets things done; the worst is that which delays them.
  • At eleven o’clock this morning came to an end the cruellest and most terrible War that has ever scourged mankind. I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, (11 November 1918)
  • What is our task? To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in.
    • Speech in Wolverhampton (24 November 1918)
  • The finest eloquence is that which gets things done; the worst is that which delays them.
    • Speech at the Paris Peace Conference (January 1919).
  • The stern hand of fate has scourged us to an elevation where we can see the great everlasting things which matter for a nation — the great peaks we had forgotten, of Honor, Duty, Patriotism, and clad in glittering white, the great pinnacle of Sacrifice pointing like a rugged finger to Heaven.
    • Speech, Queen's Hall, London (19 September 1919)
  • We have murder by the throat!
  • Liberty is not merely a privilege to be conferred; it is a habit to be acquired.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (10 May 1928)
The establishment of a German hegemony in Europe which was the aim and dream of the old prewar militarism, is not even on the horizon of Nazism.
  • Liberty has restraints but no frontiers.
    • International Liberal Conference (July 1928)
  • Sincerity is the surest road to confidence.
    • Speech at Aberystwyth (3 August 1928)
  • This war, like the next war, is a war to end war.
    • Statement, sometimes dated to have been made in 1916, as quoted in Reading, Writing and Remembering : A Literary Record (1932) by Edward Verrall Lucas, p. 296
  • I have just returned from a visit to Germany. ... I have now seen the famous German leader and also something of the great change he has effected. Whatever one may think of his methods — and they are certainly not those of a Parliamentary country — there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvellous transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in their social and economic outlook.
    One man has accomplished this miracle. He is a born leader of men. A magnetic dynamic personality with a single-minded purpose, a resolute will, and a dauntless heart. He is the national Leader. He is also securing them against that constant dread of starvation which is one of the most poignant memories of the last years of the war and the first years of the Peace. The establishment of a German hegemony in Europe which was the aim and dream of the old prewar militarism, is not even on the horizon of Nazism.
    • As quoted in The Daily Express (17 November 1936)
  • Modern warfare, we discovered, was to a far greater extent than ever before a conflict of chemists and manufacturers. Manpower, it is true, was indispensable, and generalship will always, whatever the conditions, have a vital part to play. But troops, however brave and well led, were powerless under modern conditions unless equipped with adequate and up-to-date artillery (with masses of explosive shell), machine-guns, aircraft and other supplies. Against enemy machine-gun posts and wire entanglements the most gallant and best-led men could only throw away their precious lives in successive waves of heroic martyrdom. Their costly sacrifice could avail nothing for the winning of victory.
    • War Memoirs (1938)
  • It is not too much to say that when the Great War broke out our Generals had the most important lessons of their art to learn. Before they began they had much to unlearn. Their brains were cluttered with useless lumber, packed in every niche and corner.
    • War Memoirs (1938)
  • There is nothing more dangerous than to leap a chasm in two jumps.
    • As quoted in Design for Power : The Struggle for the World (1941) by Frederick Lewis Schuman, p. 200; This is the earliest citation yet found for this or similar statements which have been attributed to David Lloyd George, as well as to Benjamin Disraeli, Winston Churchill, Vaclav Havel, Jeffrey Sachs, Rashi Fein, Walter Bagehot and Philip Noel-Baker. It has been described as a Greek, African, Chinese, Russian and American proverb, and as "an old Chassidic injunction". Variants:
      Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps.
      The most dangerous thing in the world is to try to leap a chasm in two jumps.
  • A politician is a person with whose politics you don't agree; if you agree with him he's a statesman.
    • As quoted in The British System of Government (1965) by Dilwyn Thomas

Quotes about Lloyd George

I feel his charm and recognize his genius; but he is full of emotion without heart, brilliant without intellect, and a gambler without foresight. ~ Margot Asquith
  • I feel very bitter about Lloyd George; his is the kind of character I mind most, because I feel his charm and recognize his genius; but he is full of emotion without heart, brilliant without intellect, and a gambler without foresight. He has reduced our prestige and stirred up resentment by his folly — in India, Egypt, Ireland, Poland, Russia, America, and France.
  • David Lloyd George excelled even the ruck of politicians in his desire for what he thought was fame, as well as his extravagant greed for money. The two things do not usually go together but in his case it was difficult to say which was the stronger. He fully achieved both. Lloyd George began as a small Nonconformist Radical member of Parliament. He was a fluent speaker and appealed strongly to the audiences which in an earlier generation had also been appealed to by Spurgeon, Moody and Sankey and people of that kind. He may possibly like other men of the sort who enter public life had some sort of convictions when he begun, but he had certainly lost them by the year 1900 and was purely on the make.
David Lloyd George was the best-hated statesman of his time, as well as the best loved, ~ David Low
  • The Coalition Government of 1918 onwards really was pretty bad, and it is a discreditable episode in our history that Lloyd George, a great man who came into public life as a great Radical and who, as his later history showed, retained so much of real radicalism in his heart, should at that moment, of all moments, have chosen to hang on to personal power at the price of giving way to the worst elements in the community — only to be cast out by the Tories like an old shoe, when he had served his purpose, killed the Liberal Party, and deceived the working class so thoroughly that they would never trust him again.
  • My father took me to a dinner of the Honorable Cymmrodorion Society — a Welsh literary club — where Lloyd George, then Secretary for War, and W. M. Hughes, the Australian Prime Minister, both spoke. Hughes was perky, dry, and to the point; Lloyd George was up in the air in one of his "glory of the Welsh hills" speeches. The power of his rhetoric amazed me. The substance of the speech might be commonplace, idle and false, but I had to fight hard against abandoning myself with the rest of his audience. He sucked power from his listeners and spurted it back at them. Afterwards, my father introduced me to Lloyd George, and when I looked closely at his eyes they seemed like those of a sleep-walker.
  • To see the British Prime Minister watching the company, with six or seven senses not available to ordinary men, judging character, motive, and subconscious impulse, perceiving what each was thinking and even what each was going to say next, and compounding with telepathic instinct the argument or appeal best suited to the vanity, weakness, or self-interest of his immediate auditor, was to realize that the poor President would be playing blind man's buff in that party.
  • Lloyd George was a wonderful orator. I have heard my father say that when he came to address meetings in Scotland you had to hold on to your seat not to be carried away. And in his early years he was deeply concerned to make life more tolerable for the poor. He fought for his social security legislation with all his boundless energy and adroitness; the only thing he was not prepared to do for the poor was to become one of them. He needed money, lots of money, to maintain a home for his wife and family in Wales and another in England for his secretary, who became his mistress.
    In our part of the world Lloyd George was no hero. We did not forgive or forget the Khaki Election of 1918. Nor his treatment of pacifists during the war. Nor the Marconi Scandal. Nor the way he played fast and loose with the Suffragette Movement, doing nothing to oppose forceful feeding or to undo the notorious Cat and Mouse Act.
    What Lloyd George failed to understand was no man, however gifted, is a major political power in himself. He can teach, he can preach, he can make a significant contribution, but power politics is a struggle between social forces, not a duel between individuals. Once the war was over the Tories had no more use for him. He was an outsider, an upstart Welsh lawyer who had got above himself.
  • David Lloyd George was the best-hated statesman of his time, as well as the best loved. The former I have good reason to know; every time I made a pointed cartoon against him, it brought batches of approving letters from all the haters. Looking at Lloyd George's pink and hilarious, head thrown back, generous mouth open to its fullest extent, shouting with laughter at one of his own jokes, I thought I could see how it was that his haters hated him. He must have been poison to the old school tie brigade, coming to the House an outsider, bright, energetic, irrepressible, ruthless, mastering with ease the House of Commons procedure, applying all the Celtic tricks in the bag, with a talent for intrigue that only occasionally got away from him.
    I always had the greatest difficulty in making Lloyd George sinister in a cartoon. Every time I drew him, however critical the comment, I had to be careful or he would spring off the drawing-board a lovable cherubic little chap.
    I found the only effective way of putting him definitely in the wrong in a cartoon was by misplacing this quality in sardonic incongruity — by surrounding the comedian with tragedy.
  • At Geneva other countries would have agreed not to use aeroplanes for bombing purposes, but we insisted on reserving the right, as D. puts it, to bomb niggers! Whereupon the whole thing fell through, & we add 5 millions to our air armaments expenditure.
    • Frances Stevenson, Countess Lloyd George of Dwyfor on David Lloyd George's comment on Ramsay Macdonald's Government's stance in armament talks, in a diary entry (9 March 1934), as published in Lloyd George : A Diary (1971), p. 259. This seems to be the earliest source for such a statement, although variants apparently derived from it have sometimes been presented as a direct quote of Lloyd George specifically supporting such a policy:
We must reserve the right to bomb niggers.
We have to reserve the right to bomb niggers.
Britain must reserve the right to bomb niggers.
The actual quotation of Stevenson, despite using a racist vernacular, is ambiguous and may indicate a disapproval of both the government's policy and its costs, as at that point Lloyd George had been out of office for 12 years.

Unsourced

  • You cannot feed the hungry on statistics.
    • Advocating tariff reform in the House of Commons (1904); This has also been attributed on the internet to Heinrich Heine, but without any specific citations of a source.
  • We are muddled into war. But we will never wear those leather shorts.
    • (1914?)
  • What do you want to be a sailor for? There are greater storms in politics than you will ever find at sea. Piracy, broadsides, blood on the decks. You will find them all in politics.
  • Who ordained that the few should have the land of Britain as a prerequisite; who made 10,000 people owners of the soil and the rest of us trespassers in the land of our birth?
  • [Proportional representation is a] device for defeating democracy, the principle of which was that the majority should rule, and for bringing faddists of all kinds into Parliament, and establishing groups and disintegrating parties.
    • Quoted in Alistair Cooke, Proportional Representation (Conservative Research Department Paper No. 15, 1983), p. 277.
  • We have not lost any war. As long as our Courts are delivering Justice to the people and they get egalitarian recruitment for employment. My government will make sure that people are not unemployed
    • Speech, Manchester (1919)

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