Jo Grimond

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Joseph Grimond, Baron Grimond (29 July 191324 October 1993) was Leader of the Liberal Party from 1956 to 1967 and Acting Leader in 1976. He was the Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland constituency from 1950 to 1983.


  • "The poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he..." [Colonel Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates 1647] This is one Liberal Text. And it is more distinctive than may at first appear. It asserts the individual and the value of any individual - even the poorest He. But it asserts it without envy. It does not demand that the rich be made poor - nor even claim that the poor are more deserving than the rich. It demands equality in one thing only, the right to live one's own life.
    • The Liberal Future (London: Faber and Faber, 1959), p. 12.
  • Our long-term objective is clear: to replace the Labour Party as the progressive wing of politics in this country.
    • November 1953, quoted in Alan Watkins The Liberal Dilemma (Macgibbon and Kee, 1966) p. 91.
  • Neither the Government nor the local authorities make any wealth or have any money of their own. If we want them to spend more and more we have to pay. The remedy is in our hands. Stop running to them asking them to do this, that and everything under the sun - and demand instead that they stop doing and spending so much.
    • February 1957, quoted in Michael McManus Jo Grimond: Towards the Sound of Gunfire (Birlinn, 2001) p. 120.
  • In bygone days, commanders were taught that when in doubt, they should march their troops towards the sound of gunfire. I intend to march my troops towards the sound of gunfire.
    • "Mr. Grimond names 'enemy we march against'", The Times, 16 September 1963, p. 6.
    • At the Liberal Party Assembly, 15 September 1963, indicating his intention that the party become involved in the central debates of British politics.
  • After listening to the debate on unemployment I can see a danger that Liberals lose to the Tories their claim to have new and sensible ideas and are left saying "Me too" to a Socialist conventional wisdom which is failing...The salient need of this country—to produce more and much more efficiently—hardly figured on the agenda.
    • The Sunday Times (19 September, 1976).
  • Why do I—the original advocate of realignment on the Left—object to the Lib-Lab pact? Precisely because I do not think it will lead to realignment. For one thing, the Gaitskellites have fled the field. The Labour Party looks and behaves more and more as the servants of the trade union leaders...When the election comes, either the Labour Party win—and if that happens they will say "Thank you very much" to us and go on with more collectivism—or they lose, and we shall be tarred with their failure...Don't let us become oysters to Carpenter Jim, however genuinely benevolent he may seem.
    • The Daily Mail (26 July, 1977).
  • The root objection to the pact is the nature of the Labour Party. It is not liberal. It is not becoming more liberal. The social democrats remain ineffective, or sneak off, after preaching equality to everyone else, to some of the highest-paid jobs open to the British. As a final spectacle of degradation, they are to be seen intimidating the Grunwick workers...The Labour Party remains without principle, clinging to office, paid by the trades unions, and with an anti-democratic Marxist wing. The pact, I fear, is having no effect on the nature of that party.
    • The Daily Mail (28 November, 1977).
  • 10 per cent inflation is not heaven and the factors are all still there to push it up much further next year. Nor has the Government any policy adequate to deal with unemployment. It is not capitalism that is in crisis. It is Socialism that is in collapse. The faith has vanished. The principles are shattered. It won't do for Liberals merely to say they will put on the brakes. Even if you slow down the Gadarene swine, they will go over the precipice eventually.
    • In The Spectator (21 January, 1978).
  • The state owned monopolies are among the greatest millstones round the neck of the economy...Liberals must stress at all times the virtues of the market, not only for efficiency but to enable the widest possible choice...Much of what Mrs Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph say and do is in the mainstream of liberal philosophy.
    • Jo Grimond, The Future of Liberalism (October, 1980).
  • We should not delude ourselves into thinking that an incomes policy is other than a serious infringement of freedom...Nor have the Liberals explained how it is to be worked, and even if they had, it is certainly not a permanent answer to our economic troubles...At present, the Liberal-Social Democratic Alliance occasionally looks too much like a half-way house on the old road to state socialism. It will spend more than the Tories but rather less than Labour...Such compromises may win votes, but they will not improve the country.
    • In the Journal of Economic Affairs (October, 1981).
  • Now the employer is to be told that if the unions force him to pay exorbitant wages or go out of business if he tries to continue, he will be taxed. The unions will escape any punishment. The employer will not be allowed to increase employment by paying lower wages nor to attract good labour by paying higher wages. We shall have another huge department to supervise the whole incomes policy is minted in the thinking of 1945.
    • In The Spectator (25 September, 1982).
  • The Liberal Party doesn't seem to know in its mind what to do about it—its ostensible view is that the mix of the mixed economy must be left as it is. This seems to be a slightly doubtful proposition...We have to reduce the public sector, the state-run sector, and hand it over to other bodies. The economy is probably unmanageable so long as the state attempts to do so much. The Liberals have not given nearly enough thought to the question of the bureaucracy of the state, what is suitable for the state to run...I personally agree with the SDP line, not with that of the Liberal unilateralists. I want to remain in NATO and I believe that a deterrent is essential and it promotes peace...I would not support unilateral disarmament either on moral or practical grounds.
    • In the Alliance magazine (December/January 1982–3).

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