- To me history as taught at school was like all those memories of galleries, castles and historic monuments that I didn't have. There was the same sense that if there was only some matrix, some philosophical framework to which I could attach all these facts then they would all make sense and they would all stay with me. And then halfway through Marx's Wages, Prices and Profits I suddenly thought to myself, 'Fuck me! This shit is actually true.' ... Once you understood Marx all the apparent chaos of human existence resolved itself into a coherent and comprehensive pattern. People fought not because they differed about how to wear a shirt but because they represented economic classes whose interests conflicted. The Cavaliers were landed aristocrats and their allies who wanted to hang on to a way of life being superseded by Cromwell's merchant class. Slavery was abolished not out of some idea 'niceness' in the Northern states but because the industrial factory owners of Chicago and Detroit wanted the blacks to work in their factories, to be 'wage slaves' rather than actual slaves, though often the improvement in their physical conditions was marginal. The British Empire wasn't some project designed to bring enlightenment to ignorant savages, but rather a brutal and rapacious exploitation of peoples who were often more humane than us.
You can imagine, armed with this philosophy, how full of myself I now became. Even when I hadn't had the secret of human history in my grasp I had been a mouthy little bastard in class. Now I was unstoppable.
- Israel is the Jimmy Saville of nation states.
- Comment during an interview with CAABU (15 July 2014), as cited in "Israel-Gaza conflict: 'Israel is Jimmy Savile of nation states', claims comedian Alexei Sayle" The Independent (16 July 2014)
- See Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal.
- [On Jeremy Corbyn] I'm very excited by Jeremy's rise [...] Although you can see all the forces of evil and their lies being deployed against him. People say he's brought 1970s-style socialism back, but those left-wingers were dicks. I was never very keen on Tony Benn, a pompous, self-important man. And Derek Hatton and Eric Heffer – awful, vile people.
Jeremy is nothing like them. He's ascetic and morally incorruptible. The propaganda that's thrown against him is disgraceful. Until he appeared, you had to vote for one kind of Oxbridge twat or another, people who all go to the same dinner parties, people like the Ed Ballses and George Osbornes. Jeremy has shown that, within a democratic tradition, other things are possible.
- From an interview quoted in "Alexei Sayle interview: The 80s stand-up legend on drugs, communist dentists, and the comedy revolution" The Independent (27 February 2016)
- [On Jeremy Corbyn] It is extraordinary. It is an amazing thing to have someone leading a major party who is personally a decent person. I know him a bit as we are both patrons of Palestinian solidarity campaigns. I have known him over the years and the forces that have coalesced around Jeremy are forces of good.
- [On his early "comic persona of an angry man in a too tight suit"] I do feel very proud of that, as we did banish racism and sexism from light entertainment.
- "Still joking, but deadly serious about Corbyn" The Sunday Times (6 August 2017)
About Sayle edit
- The comedian Alexei Sayle's 24 July 2014 interview on BBC Radio Two [with Jeremy Vine] was a strong example of the demonisation of those expressing concern at antisemitism: in this case, directed against Emma Barnett of The Daily Telegraph who had written a heartfelt article expressing her sincere fears. Sayle and Barnett [also interviewed by Vine] are both Jewish.
Sayle called Barnett a "pro-Israel propagandist" who was using antisemitism "to discredit the entire Palestinian cause." After interventions he did acknowledge "there are idiots out there who will be antisemitic," before then saying "I hate Jihadists ... Muslim fundamentalism ... Israeli fundamentalism. And that's what Emma Barnett is supporting ... the murder of children. The murder of women. That's what she’s supporting. From a fascist, Zionist ideology. And that’s what this article is. It's just propaganda."
Barnett ended by telling Sayle to get a lawyer and thanked him "for proving my exact point."
- "Antisemitic Discourse in Britain 2014", Community Security Trust (2015, but document dated 26 August 2014)
- For the article by Emma Barnett Sayle found objectionable, see "Gaza conflict: As a British Jew, I am now scared to talk about Israel and Gaza" The Telegraph (23 July 2014)