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The Right Honourable
 Aneurin Bevan


In office
4 May 1959 – 6 July 1960
Leader Hugh Gaitskell
Preceded by Jim Griffiths
Succeeded by George Brown

In office
3 August 1945 – 17 January 1951
Prime Minister Clement Attlee
Preceded by Henry Willink
Succeeded by Hilary Marquand

Member of Parliament
for Ebbw Vale
In office
30 May 1929 – 6 July 1960
Preceded by Evan Davies
Succeeded by Michael Foot

Born 15 November 1897(1897-11-15)
Tredegar, Wales, UK
Died 6 July 1960 (aged 62)
Chesham, England, UK
Nationality British
Political party Labour

Aneurin "Nye" Bevan (15 November 1897 – 6 July 1960) was a British Labour politician; he was a key figure on the left of the party in the mid-20th century, and prominently served as the Minister of Health during the creation of the National Health Service, in which he played a vital part. His first name is pronounced [aˈnəɨrɪn] in Welsh, typically /əˈnaɪrɪn/ in English.

Contents

Youth

Bevan was born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire, in the South Wales Valleys and on the northern edge of the South Wales coalfield, the son of miner David Bevan. Both Bevan's parents were Nonconformists; his father was a Baptist and his mother a Methodist. One of ten children, David Bevan did poorly at school and his academic performance was so bad that his headmaster made him repeat a year. At age 13, Bevan left school and began working in the local Tytryst Colliery. David Bevan had been a supporter of the Liberal Party in his youth, but was converted to socialism by the writings of Robert Blatchford in the Clarion and joined the Independent Labour Party.

His son (Aneurin Bevan) also joined the Tredegar branch of the South Wales Miners' Federation and became a trade union activist: he was head of his local Miners' Lodge at only 19. Bevan became a well-known local orator and was seen by his employers, the Tredegar Iron & Coal Company, as a revolutionary. The manager of the colliery found an excuse to get him sacked. But, with the support of the Miners' Federation, the case was judged as one of victimisation and the company was forced to re-employ him.

In 1919, he won a scholarship to the Central Labour College in London, sponsored by the South Wales Miners' Federation. At the college he gained his life-long respect for Karl Marx. Reciting long passages by William Morris, Bevan gradually began to overcome the stammer that he had since he was a child.

Upon returning home in 1921, he found that the Tredegar Iron & Coal Company refused to re-hire him. He did not find work until 1924 in the Bedwellty Colliery, and it closed down after ten months. Bevan had to endure another year of unemployment and in February 1925, his father died of pneumoconiosis.

In 1926, he found work again, this time as a paid union official. His wage of £5 a week was paid by the members of the local Miners' Lodge. His new job arrived in time for him to head the local miners against the colliery companies in what would become the General Strike. When the strike started on 3 May 1926, Bevan soon emerged as one of the leaders of the South Wales miners. The miners remained on strike for six months. Bevan was largely responsible for the distribution of strike pay in Tredegar and the formation of the Council of Action, an organisation that helped to raise money and provided food for the miners.

He was a member of the Cottage Hospital Management Committee around 1928 and was chairman in 1929/30.

Parliament

In 1928, Bevan won a seat on Monmouthshire County Council. With that success he was picked as the Labour Party candidate for Ebbw Vale (displacing the sitting MP), and easily held the seat at the 1929 General Election. In Parliament he soon became noticed as a harsh critic of those he felt opposed the working man. His targets included the Conservative Winston Churchill and the Liberal David Lloyd George, as well as Ramsay MacDonald and Margaret Bondfield from his own Labour party (he targeted the latter for her unwillingness to increase unemployment benefits). He had solid support from his constituency, being one of the few Labour MPs to be unopposed in the 1931 General Election and this support grew through the 1930s and the period of the Great Depression in the United Kingdom.

Soon after he entered parliament Bevan was briefly attracted to Oswald Mosley's arguments, in the context of Macdonald's government's incompetent handling of rising unemployment. However, in the words of his biographer John Campbell, "he breached with Mosley as soon as Mosley breached with the Labour Party". This is symptomatic of his lifelong commitment to the Labour Party, which was a result of his firm belief that only a Party supported by the British Labour Movement could have a realistic chance of attaining political power for the working class. Thus, for Bevan, joining Mosley's New Party was not an option.

He married fellow socialist MP Jennie Lee in 1934. He was an early supporter of the socialists in Spain and visited the country in the 1930s. In 1936 he joined the board of the new socialist newspaper the Tribune. His agitations for a united socialist front of all parties of the left (including the Communist Party of Great Britain) led to his brief expulsion from the Labour Party in March to November 1939 (along with Stafford Cripps and C.P. Trevelyan). But, he was readmitted in November 1939 after agreeing "to refrain from conducting or taking part in campaigns in opposition to the declared policy of the Party."

He was a strong critic of the policies of Neville Chamberlain, arguing that his old enemy Winston Churchill should be given power. During the war he was one of the main leaders of the left in the Commons, opposing the wartime Coalition government. Bevan opposed the heavy censorship imposed on radio and newspapers and wartime Defence Regulation 18B, which gave the Home Secretary the powers to intern citizens without trial. Bevan called for the nationalisation of the coal industry and advocated the opening of a Second Front in Western Europe in order to help the Soviet Union in its fight with Germany. Churchill responded by calling Bevan "... a squalid nuisance".

Bevan believed that the Second World War would give Britain the opportunity to create "a new society". He often quoted an 1855 passage from Karl Marx: "The redeeming feature of war is that it puts a nation to the test. As exposure to the atmosphere reduces all mummies to instant dissolution, so war passes supreme judgment upon social systems that have outlived their vitality." At the beginning of the 1945 general election campaign Bevan told his audience: "We have been the dreamers, we have been the sufferers, now we are the builders. We enter this campaign at this general election, not merely to get rid of the Tory majority. We want the complete political extinction of the Tory Party."

After World War II, when the Communists took control of China, Parliament debated the merits of recognising the Communist government. Churchill, no friend of Bevan or Mao Zedong, commented that recognition would be advantageous to the United Kingdom for various reasons and added, "Just because you recognise someone does not mean you like him. We all, for example, recognise the Right Honourable Member from Ebbw Vale."

Government

The 1945 General Election proved to be a landslide victory for the Labour Party, giving it a large enough majority to allow the implementation of the party's manifesto commitments and to introduce a programme of far-reaching social reforms that were collectively dubbed the 'Welfare State' (see 1945 Labour Election Manifesto). These reforms were achieved in the face of great financial difficulty following the war. The new Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, appointed Aneurin Bevan as Minister of Health, with a remit that also covered Housing. Thus, the responsibility for instituting a new and comprehensive National Health Service, as well as tackling the country's severe post-war housing shortage, fell to the youngest member of Attlee's Cabinet in his first ministerial position. The free health service was paid for directly through public money. Government income was increased for the Welfare state expenditure by a severe increase in marginal tax rates for wealthy business owners in particular, as part of what the Labour government largely saw as the redistribution of the wealth created by the working class from the owners of large-scale industry to the workers.[1]

The collective principle asserts that... no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.
Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear, p100

On the "appointed day", 5 July 1948, having overcome political opposition from both the Conservative Party and from within his own party, and after a dramatic showdown with the British Medical Association, which had threatened to derail the National Health Service scheme before it had even begun, as medical practitioners continued to withhold their support just months before the launch of the service, Bevan's National Health Service Act of 1946 came into force. After 18 months of ongoing dispute between the Ministry of Health and the BMA, Bevan finally managed to win over the support of the vast majority of the medical profession by offering a couple of minor concessions, but without compromising on the fundamental principles of his NHS proposals. Bevan later gave the famous quote that, in order to broker the deal, he had "stuffed their mouths with gold". Some 2,688 voluntary and municipal hospitals in England and Wales were nationalised and came under Bevan's supervisory control as Health Minister.

Bevan said:

The National Health service and the Welfare State have come to be used as interchangeable terms, and in the mouths of some people as terms of reproach. Why this is so it is not difficult to understand, if you view everything from the angle of a strictly individualistic competitive society. A free health service is pure Socialism and as such it is opposed to the hedonism of capitalist society.
Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear, p106
Statue of Bevan in Cardiff by Robert Thomas

Substantial bombing damage and the continued existence of pre-war slums in many parts of the country made the task of housing reform particularly challenging for Bevan. Indeed, these factors, exacerbated by post-war restrictions on the availability of building materials and skilled labour, collectively served to limit Bevan's achievements in this area. 1946 saw the completion of 55,600 new homes; this rose to 139,600 in 1947, and 227,600 in 1948. While this was not an insignificant achievement, Bevan's rate of housebuilding was seen as less of an achievement than that of his Conservative (indirect) successor, Harold Macmillan, who was able to complete some 300,000 a year as Minister for Housing in the 1950s. Macmillan was able to concentrate full-time on Housing, instead of being obliged, like Bevan, to combine his housing portfolio with that for Health (which for Bevan took the higher priority). However critics said that the cheaper housing built by Macmillan was exactly the poor standard of housing that Bevan was aiming to replace. Macmillan's policies led to the building of cheap, mass-production high-rise tower blocks, which have been heavily criticised since.

Bevan was appointed Minister of Labour in 1951 but soon resigned in protest at Hugh Gaitskell's introduction of prescription charges for dental care and spectacles—created in order to meet the financial demands imposed by the Korean War. Two other Ministers, John Freeman and Harold Wilson resigned at the same time. See Bevan's speeches

In 1952 Bevan published In Place of Fear, "the most widely read socialist book" of the period, according to a highly critical right-wing Labour MP Anthony Crosland.[2] Bevan begins: "A young miner in a South Wales colliery, my concern was with the one practical question: Where does power lie in this particular state of Great Britain, and how can it be attained by the workers?" In 1954, Gaitskell beat Bevan in a hard fought contest to be the Treasurer of the Labour Party.

Opposition

Out of the Cabinet, Bevan soon initiated a split within the Labour Party between the right and the left. For the next five years, Bevan was the leader of the left-wing of the Labour Party, who became known as Bevanites. They criticised high defence expenditure (especially for nuclear weapons) and opposed the more reformist stance of Clement Attlee. When the first British hydrogen bomb was exploded in 1955, Bevan led a revolt of 57 Labour MPs and abstained on a key vote. The Parliamentary Labour Party voted 141 to 113 to withdraw the whip from him, but it was restored within a month due to his popularity.

After the 1955 general election, Attlee retired as leader. Bevan contested the leadership against both Morrison and Labour right-winger Hugh Gaitskell but it was Gaitskell who emerged victorious. Bevan's remark that "I know the right kind of political Leader for the Labour Party is a kind of desiccated calculating machine" was assumed to refer to Gaitskell, although Bevan denied it (commenting upon Gaitskell's record as Chancellor of the Exchequer as having "proved" this). However, Gaitskell was prepared to make Bevan Shadow Colonial Secretary, and then Shadow Foreign Secretary in 1956. In this position, he was a vocal critic of the government's actions in the Suez Crisis, noticeably delivering high profile speeches in Trafalgar Square on 4 November 1956 at a protest rally, and devastating the government's actions and arguments in the House of Commons on 5 December 1956. That year, he was finally elected as party treasurer, beating George Brown.

In 1957, Bevan joined Richard Crossman and Morgan Phillips in a controversial lawsuit for libel against The Spectator magazine, which had described the men as drinking heavily during a socialist conference in Italy. Having sworn that the charges were untrue, the three collected damages from the magazine. Many years later, Crossman's posthumously published diaries confirmed the truth of The Spectator's charges.

Bevan dismayed many of his supporters when, speaking at the 1957 Labour Party conference, he decried unilateral nuclear disarmament, saying "It would send a British Foreign Secretary naked into the conference-chamber". This statement is often misconstrued: Bevan argued that unilateralism would result in Britain's loss of allies, and one interpretation of his metaphor is that nakedness would come from the lack of allies, not the lack of weapons.[citation needed] According to the journalist Paul Routledge, Donald Bruce, a former MP and Parliamentary Private Secretary and adviser to Bevan, had told him that Bevan's shift on the disarmament issue was the result of discussions with the Soviet government where they advised him to push for British retention of nuclear weapons so they could possibly be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States.[3]

In 1959, despite suffering from terminal cancer, Bevan was elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. He could do little in his new role and died the following year at the age of 62.

His last speech in the House of Commons, in the Debate of the 3 November 1959 on the Queen's Speech[4], in which Bevan referred to the difficulties of persuading the electorate to support a policy which would make them less well-off in the short term but more prosperous in the long term, was quoted extensively in subsequent years.

In 2004, over 40 years after his death, he was voted first in a list of 100 Welsh Heroes, this being credited much to his contribution to the Welfare State after World War Two.

See also

Bibliographic publications

  • Why Not Trust The Tories?, 1944. Published under the pseudonym, 'Celticus'. The title was intended ironically.
  • In Place of Fear, 1952.
  • Excerpts from Bevan's speeches are included in Greg Rosen's Old Labour to New, Methuen, 2005.

Bevan's key speeches in the legislative arena are to be found in:

  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed) Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volume I, Speeches at Westminster 1929-1944, Manutius Press, 1996.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volume II, Speeches at Westminster 1945-1960, Manutius Press, 2000.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volumes I and II, Speeches at Westminster 1929-1960, Manutius Press, 2004.

Further bibliographic reading

The major biographies are the uplifting two-volume Aneurin Bevan by Michael Foot (1962 and 1974) [5] and the more sceptical Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism, by John Campbell (1987).

Bevan's widow, Jennie Lee, published My Life with Nye, in 1980.

Shorter biographical essays can be found in:

  • Kevin Jefferys (ed), Labour Forces, IB Taurus, 2002.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volume I, Speeches at Westminster 1929-1944, Manutius Press, 1996.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volume II, Speeches at Westminster 1945-1960, Manutius Press, 2000.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volumes I and II, Speeches at Westminster 1929-1960, Manutius Press, 2004.
  • Kenneth O. Morgan, Labour People, OUP, 1987.
  • Greg Rosen (ed), Dictionary of Labour Biography, Politicos Publishing, 2001
  • G D H Cole, Aneurin Bevan, Jim Griffiths, L F Easterbrook, Ait William Beveridge, and Harold J Laski, Plan for Britain: A Collection of Essays prepared for the Fabian Society(Not illustrated with 127 text pages).[6]

Quotes

"No attempt at ethical or social seduction can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin".

Notes

  1. ^ Bevan argues that the percentage of tax from personal incomes rose from 9% in 1938 to 15% in 1949. But the lowest paid a tax rate of 1%, up from 0.2% in 1938, the middle income brackets paid 14% to 26%, up from 10% to 18% in 1938, the higher earners paid 42%, up from 29%, and the top earners 77%, up from 58% in 1938. In Place of Fear, p146. If you earned over £800,000 per annum in 2005 money terms, (£10,000 in 1948) you paid 76.7% income tax.
  2. ^ Crosland, Anthony, The Future of Socialism, p52
  3. ^ Routledge, Paul (2005-05-30). "Nye Bevan's sensational secret". New Statesman. http://www.newstatesman.com/200505300005. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  4. ^ "Debate On The Address". Hansard (Theyworkforyou.com) 612 (House of Commons Debate): Columns 860–985. 3 November 1959. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1959-11-03a.860.1#g860.7. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  5. ^ Foot, Michael: Aneurin Bevan. MacGibbon and Kee. 1962 (vol 1); 1973 (vol 2) ISBN 0-261-61508-4
  6. ^ Detail taken from Plan for Britain published by George Routledge with a date of 1943 and no ISBN.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Evan Davies
Member of Parliament for Ebbw Vale
19291960
Succeeded by
Michael Foot
Media offices
Preceded by
Raymond Postgate
Editor of Tribune
1941–1945
Served alongside: Jon Kimche
Succeeded by
Frederic Mullally
Evelyn Anderson
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Willink
Minister of Health
1945–1951
Succeeded by
Hilary Marquand
Preceded by
George Isaacs
Minister of Labour and National Service
1951
Succeeded by
Alfred Robens
Preceded by
Alfred Robens
Shadow Foreign Secretary
1956–1959
Succeeded by
Denis Healey
Preceded by
Hugh Gaitskell
Treasurer of the Labour Party
1956–1960
Succeeded by
Harry Nicholas
Preceded by
Jim Griffiths
Deputy Leader of the British Labour Party
1959–1960
Succeeded by
George Brown
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Aneurin Bevan article)

From Wikiquote

Not even the apparently enlightened principle of the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ can excuse indifference to individual suffering. There is no test for progress other than its impact on the individual.

Aneurin Bevan (15 November 18976 July 1960) was a Welsh Labour Party politician who is best known for overseeing the creation of the National Health Service in the Labour government after World War II. Bevan, a left-winger, was intermittently in trouble with the Labour leadership; in the 1950s he astonished his supporters by opposing unilateral nuclear disarmament. He overcame a speech impediment and was regarded as one of the most eloquent public speakers of his day.

Sourced

  • The Labour Party should oppose the Government arms plan root and branch.
    • Tribune, 19 February 1937.
  • Economics, said Mr Stanley, is 50% psychology … What we need, apparently, is not statesman but hypnotists, not scientists, but witchdoctors, not confidence born of scientific prediction of the future, but confidence created by a political Confidence Trick. There is nothing surprising in this. It is the kind of mystic Mumbo-Jumbo to which capitalism is driven when austere reason pronounces sentence of death upon it. It is the primitive recoil from reality and the burdens of reality which lies at the root of Fascist psychology.
    • Tribune, 5 November 1937
  • What argument have they to persuade the young men to fight except merely in another squalid attempt to defend themselves against a redistribution of the international swag?
    • Hansard, House of Commons 5th series, vol. 346, col. 2139.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on 4 May 1939 opposing conscription.
  • You have got to purge the army at the top. It will have to be a drastic purge, because the spirit of the British Army has to be regained. We have in this country five or six generals, members of other nations, Czechs, Poles, and French, all of them trained in the use of German weapons and German technique...I know it is hurtful to our pride, but would it not be possible to put some of these men temporarily in charge of our men in the field?
    • Hansard, House of Commons 5th series, vol. 381, col. 540.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, 2 July 1942.
  • Apparently some fire-eaters to-day have been saying "Never again must we allow ourselves to get into the same condition of military unprepardness, so we are going to build up a vast war machine in this country in order to surround defeated Germany with a sea of peaceful tranquillity..." It looks as though the consequences of defeat will be more desirable than those of victory.
    • Hansard, House of Commons 5th series, vol. 402, col. 1559.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on 2 August 1944.
  • This island is made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time.
    • Daily Herald, 25 May 1945
    • Speech at Blackpool, 24 May 1945.
  • That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through. But, I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying now. Do not listen to the seductions of Lord Woolton. He is a very good salesman. If you are selling shoddy stuff you have to be a good salesman. But I warn you they have not changed, or if they have they are slightly worse than they were.
    • Speech on 3 July 1948 at the Bellevue Hotel, on eve of the entry into force of the National Health Service.
  • The language of priorities is the religion of socialism.
    • Labour Party Conference, Blackpool 1949
  • It has been suggested, I think by the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Boothby) that the most constructive suggestion he could make was to urge an early General Election and a return of a Tory Government in Britain. Why on earth should he want to prophesy what might result from a Tory Government when history has the record for him? Why read the crystal when he can read the book?
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 468, col. 319.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, 29 September 1949.
  • There is only one hope for mankind — and that is democratic Socialism.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 487, col. 43.
    • Personal statement on his resignation, House of Commons, 23 April 1951.
  • Not even the apparently enlightened principle of the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ can excuse indifference to individual suffering. There is no test for progress other than its impact on the individual.
    • In Place of Fear (William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1952), p. 167-8.
  • Man must first live before he can live abundantly.
    • In Place of Fear (William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1952), p. 40.
  • Freedom is the by-product of economic surplus.
    • In Place of Fear (William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1952), p. 39.
  • There can be no immaculate conception of socialism.
    • Oft repeated: see John Campbell "Nye Bevan" (Richard Cohen Books, 1997)
  • If freedom is to be saved and enlarged, poverty must be ended. There is no other solution.
    • In Place of Fear, 1952
  • We could manage to survive without money changers and stockbrokers. We should find it harder to do without miners, steel workers and those who cultivate the land.
    • In Place of Fear (William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1952), p. 157.
  • The spectacle therefore afforded us by the United States is one of technical brilliance and social blindness.
    • In Place of Fear (William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1952), p. 162.
  • Soon, if we are not prudent, millions of people will be watching each other starve to death through expensive television sets.
    • "In Place of Fear", p. 192, 1952
  • We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.
    • "Observer", 6 December 1953.
  • I know that the right kind of leader for the Labour Party is a kind of 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 would be evidence of the lack of proper education or of 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 engine.
    • Tribune Rally, 29 September 1954, in response to Clement Attlee's wish for a non-emotional response to German rearmament. The remark 'desiccated calculating-machine' is often taken as a Bevan jibe against Hugh Gaitskell who became Labour Party leader the following year.
  • Sir Anthony Eden has been pretending that he is now invading Egypt in order to strengthen the United Nations. Every burglar of course could say the same thing, he could argue that he was entering the house in order to train the police. So, if Sir Anthony Eden is sincere in what he is saying, and he may be, he may be, then if he is sincere in what he is saying then he is too stupid to be a prime minister.
    • Speech at Trafalgar Square, London, during the Suez crisis of 1956.
  • The great Powers of the world today as they look at the armaments they have built up, find themselves hopelessly frustrated. If that be the case, what is the use of speaking about first-class, second-class and third-class Powers? That is surely the wrong language to use. It does not comply with contemporary reality. What we have to seek is new ways of being great, new modes of pioneering, new fashions of thought, new means of inspiring and igniting the minds of mankind. We can do so.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 562, cols. 1404-5.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, 19 December 1956.
  • I knew this morning that I was going to make a speech that would offend, and even hurt, many of my friends. I know that you are deeply convinced that the action you suggest is the most effective way of influencing international affairs. I am deeply convinced that you are wrong. It is therefore not a question of who is in favour of the Hydrogen bomb, but a question of what is the most effective way of getting the damn thing destroyed. It is the most difficult of all problems facing mankind. But if you carry this resolution and follow out all its implications — and do not run away from it — you will send a British Foreign Secretary, whoever he may be, naked into the conference chamber. ... And you call that statesmanship? I call it an emotional spasm.
    • Speech at the Labour Party Conference, 4 October, 1957, on unilateral nuclear disarmament.
  • Just consider, all the little nations running for shelter here and there, one running to Russia and another to the United States. In that situation before anything else would happen, the world will have been polarised between the Soviet Union and the United States. It is against that negative polarisation we have been fighting for years. We want to have the opportunity to interpose between these two giants a moderating, modifying and mitigating diplomacy.
    • Speech at the Labour Party Conference, 4 October, 1957, on unilateral nuclear disarmament.
  • I read the newspapers avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction.
    • Interview in The Times, 29 March 1960.

Attributed

  • I stuffed their mouths with gold.
    • Around 1948, Nye Bevan engineered a notorious "bribe" to win the support of hospital consultants. The father of the NHS made his famous declaration after he brokered a deal in which consultants were paid handsomely for their NHS work while allowing them to maintain private practices.
    • Source: Quote and story in the *Guardian, 2 July 2004.
  • He refers to a defeat as if it came from God, but a victory as if it came from himself.

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