Loyal readers will remember I am a big fan of put downs and have done a couple of posts: Famous put-downs and Famous put-downs #2. So, I was pleased to see that Matthew Parris has updated his book Scorn: The Wittiest and Wickedest Insults in Human History for 2016. There are loads of put-downs for your delectation. Here is my selection:


Paddy Ashdown is the only party leader who’s a trained killer. Although, to be fair, Mrs Thatcher was self-taught. Charles Kennedy

Is there no beginning to your talents? Clive Anderson to Jeffrey Archer

It is fitting that we should have buried the Unknown Prime Minister by the side of the Unknown Soldier. Herbert Asquith at Andrew Bonar Law’s funeral

My dear McClellan: If you don’t want to use the army I should like to borrow it for a while. Yours respectfully, A. Lincoln  Abraham Lincoln to General McClellan, accused of inactivity in the American Civil War

He’s so dumb he couldn’t tip shit out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. Lyndon Johnson on Gerald Ford

Winston had devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches. F.E. Smith on Winston Churchill

A sheep in sheep’s clothing. Winston Churchill on Clement Attlee

I always think he looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it. Anna Soubry on Nigel Farage

A triumph of modern science – to find the only part of Randolph that wasn’t malignant and remove it. Evelyn Waugh on Randolph Churchill after an operation

An empty taxi arrived at 10 Downing Street, and when the door was opened. Attlee got out. Winston Churchill on Clement Attlee.

A ‘semi house-trained polecat.  Michael Foot’s description of Norman Tebbit

How can one best summon up the exquisite, earnest tedium of the speech of Sir Geoffrey Howe in yesterday’s South African debate? It was rather like watching a much-loved family tortoise creeping over the lawn in search of a distant tomato. David McKie on Sir Geoffrey Howe

Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his life. Jeremy Thorpe after Harold Macmillan’s 1962 Cabinet reshuffle

Like being savaged by a dead sheep. Denis Healey, referring to the attack by Sir Geoffrey Howe on his Budget proposals, in the Listener

Attila the Hen. Clement Freud on Margaret Thatcher

With Tony you have to take the smooth with the smooth. Anonymous senior Labour politician on his leader

I wouldn’t vote for Ken Livingstone if he were running for mayor of Toytown. Arthur Scargill

No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to the issues that matter, like: did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac? Barack Obama on producing his certificate, whose authenticity Donald Trump had publicly called into doubt

If you only read one thing this year … then you’re probably the kind of person who’ll enjoy this. Amazon review of Nigel Farage’s The Purple Revolution

The prigs who attack Jeffrey Archer should bear in mind that we all, to some extent, reinvent ourselves. Jeffrey has just gone to a bit more trouble. Barry Humphries

My advice is quit while you’re behind. Tony Blair to William Hague

He has something of the night about him. Tory MP Ann Widdecombe on her former boss and Home Secretary Michael Howard, 1997

All the attributes of a populist except popularity. Bruce Anderson on Michael Howard

Ed Miliband is like a plastic bag caught in a tree. No one knows how he got up there and no one can be bothered to get him down. Bill Bailey

The Grand Hernia himself, Nigel Farage. Camilla Long

I have read that there are some people – probably the type who are thinking of defecting to Ukip – who present themselves at A&E with barely credible injuries sustained through vacuum cleaner abuse. Boris Johnson

Cecil Parkinson, you’re director of a fertilizer company. How deep is the mess you’re in? Jeremy Paxman’s first question to former Conservative party chairman on the BBC’s 1997 General Election results programme

He has the face of a man who clubs baby seals. Denis Healey on John Prescott

An enigma wrapped up in a whoopee cushion. Will Self on Boris Johnson

Reader, suppose you were an idiot; and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself. Mark Twain

Satire died the day they gave Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize. There were no jokes left after that. Tom Lehrer

It’s the sort of thing parents might chant encouragingly to a child slow on the potty-training. Christopher Hitchens on Barack Obama’s campaign slogan of ‘Yes we can’

They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge. Thomas Reed, Speaker of the House of Representatives on members of Congress

 Arianna Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision. Donald Trump

 Calling Jeffrey Archer’s fictional characters cardboard is an insult to the British packaging industry. Peter Preston

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