Q: Genuine quotations?
I am trying to verify three quotations attributed to Mr. Churchill. All three apply to politics or politicians, and all are very relevant today. Can you assist? I saw them on Facebook.
1. “Youth is for freedom and reform, maturity for judicious compromise and old age is for stability and repose.”
2. “What is the use of Parliament if it is not the place where true statements can be brought before the people? …of sending Members to Parliament to say what they are told to say by Ministerial platitude? What value can we place on our parliamentary institutions if constituencies return only lame, docile and subservient members who try to stamp on every form of independent judgement?”
3. “If you make ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”
I can find no documentation to support these quotations. Can you help me to verify that they accurate, or misattributions? —A.J., London
A: Yes to all three quotations
Facebook and Twitter (or “X” or whatever it’s now called) are fonts of false Churchill quotations. So thanks for questioning these. Happily, all three quotations are sound. From my book, Churchill by Himself:
Usually youth is for freedom and reform, maturity for judicious compromise, and old age for stability and repose.
—Chapter 2, “Maxims.” This is from Churchill’s essay, “Consistency in Politics,” Pall Mall, July 1927. WSC reprinted this piece in Thoughts and Adventures (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1932, and many subsequent editions). We can all think of several politicians who richly deserve a period of stability and repose.
Principle vs. Politics
What is the use of Parliament if it is not the place where true statements can be brought before the people? What is the use of sending Members to the House of Commons who say just the popular things of the moment, and merely endeavour to give satisfaction to the Government Whips by cheering loudly every Ministerial platitude, and by walking through the Lobbies oblivious of the criticisms they hear? People talk about our Parliamentary institutions and Parliamentary democracy; but if these are to survive, it will not be because the Constituencies return tame, docile, subservient Members, and try to stamp out every form of independent judgment.
—Chapter 29, “Leadership,” from the House of Commons, 14 March 1939. That one seems not without considerable relevance at the moment. Perhaps it’s always been relevant.
If you destroy a free market you create a black market. If you make ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
Three correct quotations in a row! This one is also in Chapter 2, “Maxims,” from the House of Commons, 3 February 1949. Churchill was arguing against the stifling regulations of industry and commerce by the postwar Labour Government (1945-51). He thought they were excessive. We can only guess what he’d think of government regulations now.