Douglas Hurd

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Douglas Hurd

Douglas Richard Hurd, Baron Hurd of Westwell, (born 8 March 1930), is a British Conservative politician and diplomat, who served in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major between 1979 and his retirement in 1995.

Quotes[edit]

Minister of State for Europe[edit]

  • The case for European solidarity has never been stronger than it is today because the pressures piling up on Europe are themselves strong and varied. At the moment the headlines in our newspapers concentrate on certain trading arguments with the United States. Clearly we in Europe deal better with these problems when we work together, and where pressures become unacceptable we can best secure their relaxation by reacting together. Of course we should remind ourselves that our aim is not to confront the United States with our own economic strength, great though that is if we work together. Our aim must be to work out a common view with the United States, based in the case of the pipeline on a common analysis of the role of trade in East–West relations.
    • ‘Europe: The British Commitment’, Studia Diplomatica, Vol. 36, No. 1 (1983), p. 57
  • After fierce political discussion over more than twenty years, the British commitment to Europe is now firmly established. As I have said we ask for no exemptions or privileges. We recognise the concepts which inspired the original founders, and salute their wisdom in setting up the Community institutions. We believe that as a member of the class of 1973 we have an equal right, and perhaps an equal wisdom, to discuss the future of the Community as members of the class of 1958. We intend to exercise that right as Europeans, convinced of the essential validity of the case for Europe put forward by the Founding Fathers of the Community, anxious that we should find together the right ways of applying those principles to the new circumstances of 1982. I do not pretend that we face an easy task. But we shall apply ourselves to it with a commitment which no-one should doubt.
    • ‘Europe: The British Commitment’, Studia Diplomatica, Vol. 36, No. 1 (1983), p. 62

Home Secretary[edit]

  • I am slightly tired of the approach that it is all because of racism on the part of the police, just as I get slightly weary of police officers saying they are asked to police black communities more lightly.
    • Speech in Handsworth, Birmingham (28 February 1986), quoted in The Times (1 March 1986), p. 4
  • The recent local elections revealed concern about the quality of some public services which the Government will need to weigh carefully in the coming consideration of our national spending priorities. As people become personally better off their expectations of services naturally rise too and we need to take this into account. ... We should continue to aim at a further reduction in the level of taxation. But many of our supporters will be looking for us to strike a balance in terms of the realities of 1986.
    • Speech to Conservative Party workers in Nottingham (6 June 1986), quoted in The Times (7 June 1986), p. 2
  • We have to find, as the Victorians found, techniques and instruments which reach the parts of our society which will always be beyond the scope of statutory schemes. I believe that the inspiring and the enlisting of the active citizen in all walks of life is the key.
    • Speech in Tamworth celebrating the bicentenary of Sir Robert Peel's birth (5 February 1988), quoted in Derek Heater, ‘Citizenship: A Remarkable Case of Sudden Interest’, Parliamentary Affairs, Volume 44, Issue 2 (April 1991), p. 140
  • [Politicians have a right to respond to the] presence or absence of the churches, and their sometimes bizarre choice of priorities for discussion.
    • Speech in Tamworth celebrating the bicentenary of Sir Robert Peel's birth (5 February 1988), quoted in The Times (6 February 1988), p. 4
  • The fruits of economic success could turn sour unless we can bring back greater social cohesion to our country.
    • Speech in Tamworth celebrating the bicentenary of Sir Robert Peel's birth (5 February 1988), quoted in The Times (6 February 1988), p. 4
  • Underpinning our social policy are those traditions—the diffusion of power, civil obligation, and voluntary service—which are central to Conservative philosophy. ... The diffusion of power...the key to active and responsible citizenship.
    • Article in the New Statesman (April 1988), quoted in Derek Heater, ‘Citizenship: A Remarkable Case of Sudden Interest’, Parliamentary Affairs, Volume 44, Issue 2 (April 1991), p. 140
  • Fear of racial assault or harassment still scars the lives of too many men and women, especially in the inner cities. ... Racial harmony could not be imposed by legislation or by ministerial acts. However, the Government should help foster greater trust and equality of opportunity between people of different ethnic origins through a gradual shift in individual attitudes and behaviour. A Conservative government and a Conservative Party are well placed for that task. A harmonious but not homogenized nation was close to the hearts of both.
    • Speech at the launch of the campaign against racist attacks (16 May 1989), quoted in The Times (17 May 1989), p. 3
  • The idea of Active Citizenship is a necessary complement to that of the enterprise culture. Public service may once have been the duty of an elite, but today it is the responsibility of all who have time or money to spare. Modern capitalism has democratised the ownership of property, and we are now witnessing the democratisation of responsible citizenship.
    • Article in The Independent (September 1989), quoted in Derek Heater, ‘Citizenship: A Remarkable Case of Sudden Interest’, Parliamentary Affairs, Volume 44, Issue 2 (April 1991), p. 140

Foreign Secretary[edit]

  • There is no dread conspiracy against us. There is simply an argument, and no reason why we should be scared or defeatist in that argument. We must continue to fight our corner for British interests. But we can do that without frightening ourselves with ogres.
  • I would like you to go to the farmhouse in Marlborough Downs where I was brought up. My father was a tenant farmer farming 500 acres. ... I was not uncomfortably off. I am not saying that. But there was no question of him sending me to Eton if I had not won a scholarship. That is what social mobility is all about.
    • Answer to a question about whether his Old Etonian background made him the establishment candidate in the leadership election; press conference at the Foreign Office launching his leadership campaign (23 November 1990), quoted in The Times (24 November 1990), p. 2
  • There will be shifts of sovereignty but only in specific areas which I consider debatable. The [European] Community should lead as external trade negotiator. ... But there must be basic areas of national sovereignty. Peace and war; law and order; foreign policy; fiscal policy. You can cooperate, but these are not matters for Community competence. Our resistance was entirely justified in the case of the Social Charter. ... I do not believe in the European glacier, that there is something irresistible about European integration.
    • Interview with Simon Jenkins (25 November 1990), quoted in The Times (26 November 1990), p. 12
  • Thatcherism is not Tutankhamun's tomb, which you've got to seal up and guard. It has to fructify. It's an investment. Take what has been achieved and go on from there. Thatcherism breaks into different things: privatisation, the extension of individual responsibility, education. But the course is certainly set. I want to keep it, not change it.
    • Interview with Simon Jenkins (25 November 1990), quoted in The Times (26 November 1990), p. 12
  • European security without the United States simply doesn't make sense. We Europeans need to say loud and clear that we welcome US forces in Europe.
    • Speech in Berlin (10 December 1990), quoted in The Times (11 December 1990), p. 22
  • There is a danger that we legislate to feel good, not to do good. Nowhere is this truer than in social legislation. The warm glow comes quickly after passing a piece of law which is designed to raise standards for those in jobs; the chill of lost jobs because of lost competitiveness is felt more slowly. ... We should make our labour markets more flexible and job-friendly, and secure greater skill levels and cost control. That means not introducing new limitations on the labour market.
    • ‘Making the Union Work’, Studia Diplomatica, Vol. 47, No. 2 (1994), p. 18

Later life[edit]

  • We should be wary of politicians who profess to follow history while only noticing those signposts of history that point in the direction which they themselves already favour.

Quotes about Hurd[edit]

  • His is a split personality. A deux he is delightful; clever, funny, observant, drily cynical. But get him anywhere near ‘display mode’, particularly if there are officials around, and he might as well have a corncob up his arse. Pompous, trite, high-sounding, cautiously guarded.
    • Alan Clark, diary (29 January 1988), quoted in Alan Clark, Diaries: In Power, 1983–1992 (2001), p. 198
  • My old friend and colleague Douglas Hurd was so likeable that he had no enemies. He had a quite brilliant mind and very considerable ability. He was a particularly skilful diplomat and I was certain that he would apply a soothing leadership to an overexcited and divided party, which we would need to carry us to the next election with any prospect of success. I therefore joined his campaign team.
  • I find him very loyal and he's an honourable man.
    • Margaret Thatcher's remarks to Woodrow Wyatt (2 February 1986), quoted in Woodrow Wyatt, The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt, Volume One, ed. Sarah Curtis (1998), p. 83
  • I don't think he goes very deep in thought. And he doesn't make the strong decisions. ... He is not a believer.
    • Margaret Thatcher's remarks to Woodrow Wyatt (24 July 1988), quoted in Woodrow Wyatt, The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt, Volume One, ed. Sarah Curtis (1998), p. 607
  • He developed the conceit that Europe was “moving our way.” Those who called on him heard these words often. So did the Cabinet. They were a way of arguing that, if you took the long view, the problem between, say, Portillo and a pro-Europe man like Michael Heseltine might be said not really to exist. For Britain's objectives were coming about anyway. “The climate is changing,” Hurd told me on several occasions between 1992 and 1996. The Commission, repeatedly, was said to have got the message about subsidiarity. So had Delors and Mitterrand personally. There was now a new stream of higher wisdom percolating through the Community from its source-bed in London. Ideas that had once been regarded as “heresies, eccentricities of British thought” were now beginning to prevail, a development that made it “not sensible to back off into noisy and destructive isolation.”
    • Hugo Young, This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair (1998), p. 451

External links[edit]

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