Herbert Morrison

British Labour politician (1888-1965)

Herbert Stanley Morrison, Baron Morrison of Lambeth, CH PC (3 January 18886 March 1965) was a British Labour Party politician and Cabinet minister. He led the Labour Party to control the London County Council from 1934. In the wartime coalition and postwar Attlee government, Morrison held various cabinet posts, including Foreign Secretary, Deputy Prime Minister and w:Home Secretary. Morrison was very close to attaining the leadership of the party at various points in his career, but Clement Attlee distrusted him and deliberately prolonged his own leadership in order to prevent him from winning.


  • Some of you would prefer a Tory Government. We know our enemies. I have come across a coalition of Conservatives and Communists before. Tories have a very warm place in their hearts for Communists and so have the Communists for the Tories.
    • The Times, 4 November 1930, quoted in Bernard Donoughue and George Jones, "Herbert Morrison: Portrait of a Politician" (Phoenix Press, 2001), p. 236.
  • It is a bright idea that when you get a National Government in office, a mixed and assorted Government, it is to be assumed that the opposition must suddenly cease to function, and that it must discharge the duties of the Opposition and carry the burden of the baby of the Government as well. This Bill is the Government's business, and it is for us to attack it and to tear it to pieces if we like, and we are going to do what we think proper in this respect.
    • Parliamentary speech on the National Economy Bill, 28 September 1931.
    • Hansard, HC 5ser vol 257 col 145.
  • The good Socialist works with religious zeal for the redemption of mankind from the evils of poverty and ignorance. ... He is conscious of the beauty of the ideal ... he works on ... for the deliverance of the human spirit from the enslavement of material things.
    • Manchester Guardian, 2 July 1934, quoted in Bernard Donoughue and George Jones, "Herbert Morrison: Portrait of a Politician" (Phoenix Press, 2001), p. 184.
  • The bridge was not of such great importance or social significance, but it was symbolical that Labour was capable of decision, that the machinery of democratic public administration would work if the men and women in charge were determined that it should work.
    • The Times, 10 December 1934.
    • Explaining his decision to personally begin the dismantling of the old Waterloo Bridge; the government had refused to allow the council to build a replacement so Morrison and his allies forced the issue by breaking up the existing bridge.
  • Our own British Communist Party – if it is our own and British – might at any time suffer a change of heart and go back to bloody revolution. For all I know it may there already, underground. Anything is possible for a party which at one and the same time shouts for a United Front and puts up candidates against us with a view to splitting the Labour vote. All this is alien to our honest, straightforward, native, Socialist thought. ... But you can't all the time say 'No, No, No' to the Communists. The real answer to the Communists is a positive answer. We have to show more vigorous fighting enthusiasm, more faith, more sense of high adventure.
    • Peter Howard, "Men on Trial" (Blandford Press, 1945), p. 37-8
    • Speech in December 1944
  • It is because I have confidence in the reasoned appeal the Socialist Party can make to all sections of the community – manual workers and black coats alike – that I have decided to go to East Lewisham, if I am selected, emphasizing by this action my conviction that the soundest socialist appeal is that which is most universal in its scope.
    • The Times, 10 January 1945.
    • Morrison abandoned his safe seat in Hackney South for Lewisham East in the 1945 general election despite it being a Conservative-held seat that had never previously returned a Labour MP. The move paid off, and he was elected there.
  • The fact that the House of Lords has many irrational features is not, in itself, fatal in British eyes for we have a capacity for making the irrational work, and if a thing works, we tend to like it, or at any rate to put up with it.
    • Government and Parliament: A Survey from the Inside (Oxford University Press, 1959), p. 194


  • Socialism is what a Labour government does.
    • An example of this attribution is Peter Riddell, "We believed you, Tony, but what comes next?", The Times, 14 January 2002, p. 16.


  • Of all the colleagues I have lost, he is the one I am least sorry to see the last of. I hope that Lewisham will throw the intruder out. He only came here because he ran away from a communist.
    • Daily Express, 5 July 1945.
    • Winston Churchill supporting Morrison's opponent in the 1945 general election.


  • We are going to build the Tories out of London.
    • An example of this quote being attributed to Morrison is Leo McKinstry, "Labour is stealing your country", The Spectator, 24 July 2004, p. 20.
    • Allegedly said in the 1930s while Leader of the London County Council, outlining a supposed Morrison policy of building LCC estates in Conservative-voting areas in order to shift elections towards the Labour Party. No source has been found and quote has not been traced earlier than the early 1960s. The Local Government Chronicle once offered a prize to anyone who could find proof that Morrison had said it; the prize remains unclaimed. Morrison's LCC built substantial numbers of homes but a large number of them were outside the County of London entirely.

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