Norman Tebbit

English politician (born 1931)

Norman Beresford Tebbit, Baron Tebbit CH PC (born 29 March 1931) is a British politician and life peer. A member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet from 1981 to 1987 as Secretary of State for Employment (1981–1983), Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1983–1985), and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Chairman of the Conservative Party (1985–1987). He was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1970 to 1992, representing the constituencies of Epping (1970–1974) and Chingford (1974–1992).

Norman Tebbit (2008)


  • I have no intention of slurring over the differences we have with socialism, nor concealing my belief that we are the National Party of Great Britain, representing not narrow class interest, nor the bigotry of the left wing intellectuals, but all those who support the British tradition of democracy, of personal freedom, of personal responsibility for one's own affairs and those of one's family, with the least possible interference from the State.
    • Speech to Epping Conservatives (17 November, 1969).
    • Norman Tebbit, Upwardly Mobile (Futura, 1991), p. 104.
  • If we give in to the terrorists we will have more skyjacking, and not merely from the Arabs...Whatever happenes to these hostages—and I could easily have been one of them—if we give in even more people will be taken hostage and more lives will be laid at risk.
  • Most people know it [this election] is being fought because a tiny minority of communists and extreme leftists are trying to overthrow a legally elected Government and indeed Parliament itself by the use of the strike weapon...'Can the election solve the strike?' Yes. Agree or disagree with the result, the miners accept the verdict of their own national ballot. I believe they will accept the result of this national ballot too.
    • General election address (January 1974).
    • Tebbit, p. 168.
  • Inside Britain there is a parallel threat from the Marxist collectivist totalitarians too. Small in number, those anti-democratic forces have gained great power through the trades union movement. Just to state that fact is to be accused of 'union-bashing'—often by people who know it to be true. Such people are to be found in the Conservative, Liberal and Labour Parties. Their politics may be different but such people share the morality of Laval and Pétain...they are willing not only to tolerate evil, but to excuse it...and to profit by so doing...Both Jim Prior and Keith Joseph know that George Ward and Grunwick are not perfect, nor was Czechoslovakia perfect in 1938. But if Ward and Grunwick are destroyed by the red fascists, then, as in 1938, we will have to ask, whose turn is it next? Yes, it is like 1938. We can all see the evil, but the doctrine of appeasement is still to be heard.
    • Speech in Chingford on the Grunwick dispute (12 September, 1977).
    • Tebbit, pp. 194-5.
  • I'm a hawk—but no kamikaze. And Jim's a dove—but he's not chicken.
    • On Jim Prior, Shadow Employment Secretary, in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference (October, 1977).
    • Tebbit, p. 196.
  • I grew up in the 30s with an unemployed father. He didn't riot; he got on his bike and looked for work and he kept looking 'til he found it.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference (15 October, 1981).
  • We need to create an enterprise culture, a society where successful entrepreneurs are respected and admired, not treated with suspicion and disdain. And in which we see less envy of other peoples' achievements and mistrust of commerce, and a greater readiness to get out there and join in the process.
    • Speech to the Institute of Directors' Annual Conference (26 February, 1985).
  • No one likes to see redundancies at home at the same time as he sees a surge of imports from abroad. The temptation to succumb to political pressure, to make a special case or to give respite is often overwhelming. But to do so, except in response to clearly unfair trading practices, is to court disaster. The temporary measure frequently becomes the permanent fixture and the special case, a precedent for more. And by shielding industry from fair competition in the short-term, long term decline is guaranteed.
    • Speech in London (21 May, 1985).
  • The path away from economic freedom is, as Hayek long ago demonstrated, the road to serfdom. The road may be a long one: the pace may be swift or slow: but the destination cannot be changed. State ownership, state monopolies, state regulation and state planning, through the centralisation of economic power, inevitably lead to economic failure. They inevitably increase both the temptation and the scope for abuses of political power until freedom itself is threatened. The planned economies, the controlled societies which socialism requires, pervert what are truly economic decisions for the market into political decisions for the politician or the bureaucrat. The fruits of centralised economics are corruption, poverty and servility—and in the socialist society the only medicine which may be prescribed is heavier doses of the same socialist poison.
    • The 1985 Disraeli Lecture (13 November, 1985).
  • I had long believed that the Heath aberration of authoritarian centralist corporatism apart, most of the values, ethos and policies of Conservatism were strongly supported by working-class voters. Those voters—especially the socio-economic groups C1 and C2—I saw as natural Conservatives who nevertheless saw themselves for tribal reasons as Labour voters. However much we tried to reach them by argument, we always failed because they were unable to identify themselves with the representatives of the Tory Party they saw. I was determined to be a Conservative who spoke their language, not just what is often described as my flat North-London accent—which was after all my mother tongue—but their practical realism, lack of humbug and strong attachment to many traditional standards and values.
    • Norman Tebbit, Upwardly Mobile (Futura, 1991), p. 172.
  • I played my part in turning the sick country of Europe into one of the most successful and respected in the world. After ten years of Mrs. Thatcher's premiership the talk of the 'English disease' has been replaced by wonder at the 'Thatcher miracle'. Britain the laggard has become Britain the leader and our policies have become the standard against which others are measured.
    • Norman Tebbit, Upwardly Mobile (Futura, 1991), p. 339.
  • The word 'conservative' is used by the BBC as a portmanteau word of abuse for anyone whose views differ from the insufferable, smug, sanctimonious, naïve, guilt-ridden, wet, pink orthodoxy of that sunset home of the third-rate minds of that third-rate decade, the nineteen-sixties.
    • The Independent (24 February, 1990).
  • A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It is an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are? I think we have got real problems in that regard.
    • In an interview for the Los Angeles Times (April, 1990).
  • The mark of a single currency is not only that all other currencies must be extinguished but that the capacity of other institutions to issue currencies must also be extinguished...In the case of the United Kingdom, that would involve Parliament binding its successors in a way that it has hitherto regarded as unconstitutional.
  • I suspect that the only thing that will take Articles Two and Three out of the Irish Constitution is when the bombs begin to blow in Dublin in the way that they have been in Belfast and in London.
    • On Sky television. (19 July, 1993).
  • Go away and have another heart attack!
    • According to Francis Wheen, Tebbit shouted this at left-wing Labour MP Tom Litterick during a House of Commons debate in the late 1970s, on the day of Litterick's return to the commons after a lengthy absence following a heart attack and extensive heart surgery. Litterick did in fact die of another heart attack shortly afterwards[1]
  • I’m not sure. He ought to. Things would work better.
    • On the existence of God, remarks to The Daily Telegraph in March 2011[2]
  • A typical piece of BBC anti-Tory propaganda.
    • From an article published in a 1985 edition of the Monday Club magazine 'Right Ahead' which was heavily critical of the BBC and of what Tebbit regarded as the corporation's left-wing bias. Tebbit was referring to an episode of the popular BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who entitled 'Pyramids of Mars' which he had recently seen - he perceived a "wasteland version of 1980" featured in the episode to be a symbolic, allegorical and propagandistic attack on the Thatcher government. Tebbit was apparently completely unaware that the episode in question was actually filmed in 1975, four years before Thatcher had even come to power. [Eric Luskin, Doctor Who in the 80s (Virgin, 1996)]
  • He (John Major) has the mulishness of a weak man with stupidity.
    • [Source: The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt: Volume 3, p. 437.]

About Tony Blair (1 May 2005):

  • I don't think he's a liar, just a fantasist. He says whatever he likes, and then he believes it.


  • The Muslim religion is so unreformed since it was created that nowhere in the Muslim world has there been any real advance in science, or art or literature, or technology in the last 500 years...we've leapt ahead in all material terms, but the Muslim world would say we have fallen down in all spiritual and moral terms. We have to accept our share of the blame and they have to accept theirs.
  • My Lords, would it not be a good idea if the Chairman of Committees and all Members resisted the mad idea of this House being dragged into this century? It is a very disagreeable century. Would it not be a better idea to drag us back perhaps into the 19th century, which in many ways was a very much better one for this country?
  • They want to know if Mr Cameron has bought into the Blairite, ever-expanding, ever more costly, interfering nanny state, or whether he has proposals to strengthen family life, restore discipline in schools, combat crime, deal with the now almost universally recognised dangers of multiculturalism and the unlimited immigration of unassimilable minorities, raise standards in schools and the NHS, and bring back home powers lost to Brussels.
    • The Spectator, 29 July 2006.
  • I haven't got a racist bone in my little finger.
    • Cryptic response to claims that he is a racist

[Private Eye, No. 1169, October 2006].

  • If they (Muslim women) wish to cover their faces and isolate themselves from the rest of the community and so thoroughly reject our culture then I cannot imagine why they want to be here at all. Perhaps they should just push off back to their own countries.
    • [Private Eye, No. 1170, October 2006].
  • The BBC is another part of the destruction of Great Britain.
    • The Daily Telegraph (9 February 2009) [6].


  • Norman is one of the bravest men I have ever met. He will never deviate on a point of principle—and those principles are ones which even the least articulate Tory knows he shares.
Wikipedia has an article about: