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Harold Macmillan Quotes


Harold Macmillan
  • Mini Bio
  • Name: Maurice Harold Macmillan
  • Born: 10th February 1894, Belgravia, London, England
  • Died: 29th December 1986, Chelwood Gate, East Sussex, England
  • Resting place: St Giles' Church, Horsted Keynes, West Sussex, U.K.
  • Occupation: Soldier, politician and prime minister
  • Alma mater: Balliol College, Oxford. From his year at Balliol 28 fellow students enlisted for WWI only Macmillan and one other returned from the western front
  • Army unit: Grenadier guards
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Medals: Victory Medal, British War Medal
  • Political party: Conservatives
  • Title: The Earl Of Stockton
  • Scroll down for full bio and many great quotes

"You've never had it so good"

Harold MacMillan

"The Queen is not only very charming, but incredibly well-informed. Less agreeable, are the visits and letters from the Archbishop of Canterbury"

Harold MacMillan

"Quiet, calm deliberation disentangles every knot"

Harold MacMillan

"The past must be a springboard, not a sofa"

Harold MacMillan

"A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts"

Harold MacMillan

"It's a good thing to be laughed at. It's better than to be ignored"

Harold MacMillan

"I was determined that no British government should be brought down by the action of two tarts"

Harold MacMillan

"I am MacWonder one moment and MacBlunder the next"

Harold MacMillan

"The young fool has first to grow up to be an old fool to realize what a damn fool he was when he was a young fool"

Harold MacMillan

"History is apt to judge harshly those who sacrifice tomorrow for today"

Harold MacMillan

"The wind of change is blowing through the continent. Whether we like it or not"

Harold MacMillan

"In all negotiations nothing matters except the will to reach agreement"

Harold MacMillan

"Tradition does not mean that the living are dead, it means that the dead are living"

Harold MacMillan

"Churchill was fundamentally what the English call unstable - by which they mean anybody who has that touch of genius which is inconvenient in normal times"

Harold MacMillan

"The Liberals offer a mixture of sound and original ideas. Unfortunately none of the sound ideas is original and none of the original ideas is sound"

Harold MacMillan

"Britain's most useful role is somewhere between bee and dinosaur"

Harold MacMillan

"It's no use crying over spilt summits"

Harold MacMillan

"The class war is obsolete"

Harold MacMillan

"Jaw-jaw is better than war-war"

Harold MacMillan

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Harold Macmillan Biography

Harold Macmillan was excelling at Oxford when WWI broke out and along with his university peers he decided to enlist in the British army to fight the Hun. His entrance to the theatre of war was delayed when he had his appendix removed in 1914 however he was destined to see his fair share of the action as he was present at the Battle of Loos and the Battle of the Somme.

He was wounded three times and after he was shot through the leg he nearly died after it became infected and he was sent back to London for recuperation which took a further 2 years. An earlier gunshot wound to the right hand left him with a permanent limp handshake and there was only to be two survivors from his gallant year at Oxford who returned to resume their studies.

After the war he worked in his families publishing company and in 1924 he was elected to parliament starting off what would be a significant political career.



Just after the outbreak of WWII Macmillan became a minister under Prime Minister Winston Churchill of whom he was later to say: "You and I owe Hitler something. He made you Prime Minister and me an under-secretary. No power on earth, except Adolf Hitler, could have done either". He successfully worked at many different key ministerial roles until he became Prime Minister in 1957 after the resignation of Anthony Eden.

In 1959 he was successfully re-elected for another term as prime minister and although he proved an able statesman his government was rocked by the Profumo affair, the statesman held firm and weathered the storm, he was even quoted as saying; "I was determined that no British government should be brought down by the action of two tarts".

He was ready to join the European Economic Community (EEC) but French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed Britains application in 1963 which drew a strong retort from Macmillan when he said: "De Gaulle wants the kind of Europe we would be able readily to join, but he does not want us in it… He hates England… because of the war, because of France’s shame".

He saw out his prime ministerial reign and was succeeded by Sir Alec Douglas Home. He went on to become the Earl Of Stockton and lived until he was 92 still making rousing speeches in The House Of Lords. When he was not commenting on the state of the nation he was also good for a one liner so here is my compilation of 19 of the best Harold Macmillan quotes

Quotes About Harold Macmillan

The Labour politician Neil Kinnock described him thus: "He represented a generation of Tories who recognized duty and pursued the objective of one nation"

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was respectful: "A straight, fine man, and so far as he is concerned, the outstanding one of the British he served with during the war"

Historian John Vincent on his legacy: "He presented himself as a patrician, as the last Edwardian, as a Whig, as a romantic Tory, as intellectual, as a man shaped by the comradeship of the trenches and by the slump of the 1930s"

Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher simply said: "Harold Macmillan occupied a unique place in the nation's affections"


Harold Macmillan  image quote