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Hartley Shawcross

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We are the masters at the moment and shall be for some considerable time.
Statement made in a 1946 debate to repeal the Conservatives' "Trade Disputes Act" of 1927 (following a quotation from Through the Looking-Glass in which Humpty-Dumpty observed that the question of definitions of words depended upon who was master). This has often been misquoted as "We are the masters now." His obituary in The Times (11 July 2003) states "even if in its authentic form it was intended as a factual description rather than a boast, it did Shawcross a good deal of harm. It was certainly uncharacteristic, for he was neither a bully nor a zealot... he was hardly a fierce party warrior." The Independent [London] (11 July 2003) in its obituary states "he accepted that it was one of the most foolish things he ever said." However, an article in the New Statesman disputed the Times' obituary, citing eyewitness Lord Bruce in support of the wording, "We are the masters now", and noting a third version in Hansard.

Hartley Shawcross

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