There have been some postings on Facebook and Twitter which are just abusive. It seems that those who disagree have lost that finesse, the noble art of political insult. Bearing that in mind, I thought I’d dig out a few choice insults from the past, which show that it is possible to insult, and get away with it, provided that you do so in such a way as to evoke amusement.
In the UK
“That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles, or your mistress.” – The retort of John Wilkes after the Earl of Sandwich informed him that "Upon my soul, Wilkes, I don't know whether you'll die upon the gallows, or of syphilis"
If a traveller were informed that such a man was the leader of the House of Commons, he might begin to comprehend how the Egyptians worshipped an insect. - Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), British prime minister and author, on Lord John Russell (1792-1878), British prime minister
"The Right Honourable Gentleman's smile was like the silver plate on a coffin." Benjamin Disraeli’s putdown of Robert Peel. He also said of the Earl of Aberdeen that he plagued his colleagues with "the crabbed malice of a maundering witch".
If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune, and if anybody pulled him out that, I suppose, would be a calamity. - Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), British prime minister, on William Gladstone (1809-98). he also said that Gladstone had "not one single redeeming defect".
He is a self-made man and worships his creator. - John Bright (1811-1889) on Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)
If Kitchener was not a great man, he was at least, a great poster. - Margot Asquith (1864-1945) on Lord Kitchener (1850-1916)
The right honourable and learned gentleman has twice crossed the floor of this House, each time leaving behind a trail of slime. - David Lloyd George (1863-1945) on Sir John Simon (1873-1954)
He spent his whole life in plastering together the true and the false and therefrom manufacturing the plausible. - Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947) on David Lloyd George (1863-1945)
He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened. - Winston Churchill (1874-1965) on Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947)
His impact on history would be no more than the whiff of scent on a lady's handkerchief. - David Lloyd George (1863-1945) on Arthur Balfour (1848-1930)
I thought he was a young man of promise; but it appears he was a young man of promises. - Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930) on Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
“I suppose the honourable gentleman’s hair, like his intellect, will recede into the darkness.” Paul Keating on Shadow Treasurer Andrew Peacock (1939-Pres.)
Michael Foot compared Norman Tebbit to "a semi-house-trained polecat"
Labour MP Tony Banks accused Margaret Thatcher of having "the sensitivity of a sex-starved boa constrictor". He also said of Tory MP Terry Dicks that "the honourable Member is living proof that a pig's bladder on a stick can be elected to Parliament".
“The House has noticed the Prime Minister’s remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from Stalin to Mr. Bean.” Vincent Cable (1943-Pres.) on Gordon Brown (1951-Pres.
And in the USA
"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." –Mark Twain
“Hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman,” Thomas Jefferson said, referring to John Adams, whose son, John Quincy Adams, returned the favour, calling Jefferson, “A slur upon the moral government of the world.”
Theodore Roosevelt was partial to backbone-related insults. He reportedly said President William McKinley had “no more backbone than a chocolate éclair,” though some have disputed he actually said it.
“History buffs probably noted the reunion at a Washington party a few weeks ago of three ex-presidents: Carter, Ford and Nixon — See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Evil,” Sen. Bob Dole said in 1983
"In a recent fire Bob Dole's library burned down. Both books were lost. And he hadn't even finished colouring one of them." —Jack Kemp
“People might cite George Bush as proof that you can be totally impervious to the effects of Harvard and Yale education,” Rep. Barney Frank said in 2005.