Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Lord Adonis misquotes

I always thought Lord Adonis didn’t have much of the Machiavelli about him.

He seems a little more principled than most senior politicians and a little more interested in his ministerial brief than his career.

Last night while giving a speech on trains he said: “I think it was Sir Thomas More who said treason is just a matter of dates.”

Actually it wasn’t. Sir Thomas More was beheaded in 1535 after refusing out of principle to sign the Act of Supremacy, which enshrined England’s split from the Catholic Church.

The line Adonis quoted was actually made by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.

Known simply as Talleyrand, he was a diplomat and politician so versatile that he managed to work under the King of France, for leaders during the French Revolution and for Napoleon.

I wonder whether Adonis will be a More who dies for his principles or a Talleyrand who lives for his work.