Tam Dalyell Quotes to Remember Scottish History

, Staff Editor
Updated February 17, 2022
Portrait Of Tam Dalyell With Quote
    Portrait Of Tam Dalyell With Quote
    Colin McPherson / Corbis Entertainment / Getty Images editorial
    Used under Getty Images editorial license

Known for his stubborn sense of conviction, Scottish Labour MP Tam Dalyell (1932-2017) spoke often and loudly about government practices and decision-making during his career. He was both eccentric and analytical, which made him a controversial personality throughout his lifetime and after his death.

Tam Dalyell Quotes About Politics and Scotland

Dalyell’s 43 continuous years as MP afforded him countless opportunities for commentary on both domestic and international politics. His anti-devolutionist (opposition to creating a Scottish Parliament under the U.K. government) attitude made people think deeply about the future of Scotland.

  • “To build for the future, along the lines of the Amendment, it is necessary, in my view, to create the foundations by clearing up the past.” - on the powers of Senates, February 1966

  • “... is it realised that many of us who, five years ago were rather starry-eyed about aid to developing countries, have swung round to the view that trade, not aid, is the most satisfactory long-term relationship with developing countries …” - on aid to Indonesia, April 1966

  • “As you remember very well, there was considerable, not unpleasant, but ridicule about my view.” - on the Scottish referendum, BBC Newsnight interview, 2014

  • “The promises made by the three party leaders were absolute rubbish. And they shouldn’t have made them.” - on the Scottish referendum, BBC Newsnight interview, 2014

  • “I think it would be wrong in principle for a Labour government to impose, ‘cause that’s the correct word, legislation in England using a Scottish majority where those Scottish MPs had absolutely no say in their own place.” - on the Scottish referendum, BBC Newsnight interview, 2014

  • "I am one of a dwindling number of MPs who have actually worn the Queen's uniform … Perhaps we are a bit less relaxed about unleashing war than those who have never been in a military situation." - quoted in his obituary by BBC News, 2017

  • "These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world. I am appalled that a British Labour prime minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing." - quoted in his obituary by BBC News, 2017

  • "You must not be afraid to be thought a bore." - quoted in his obituary by BBC News, 2017

  • “When short-term problems look daunting there is a temptation to desert to the long term, which may appear to be easier.” - Speech on Tidal Power, 1974

  • “Like every politician, I’m a man of some vanity, but not sufficient vanity to call a constitutional conundrum about myself or my constituency.” - STV News interview, 2016

  • “Once you have an organization which is based on the concept of nationality, then what on Earth do you expect that they will ask for more and more. That is the nature of politicians, they ask for more and more for the institution in which they find themselves.” - STV News interview, 2016

  • “I was branded the awkward squad, but I was never awkward once for the sake of being awkward. It was always on an issue, and an issue that was not trivial; no-one can say that I can be awkward or difficult on a trivial issue.” - Interview for The Scotsman, 2012

  • “How can it be that I can vote on education in Accrington, Lancashire, but not in Armadale, West Lothian? How can I vote for health in Whitburn, County Durham, but not Whitburn, West Lothian? [These are questions that] cannot be asked too often.” - on the Scotland Bill, quoted in interview for The Scotsman, 2012

  • “I have a view on Scotland actually, that we are a series of rather different places, and I’m not sure Aberdeen wants to be run from Edinburgh and I’m jolly sure that Glasgow doesn’t want to be run from Edinburgh.” - Interview for The Scotsman, 2012


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