Monday 16 January 2023

Paul Johnson and Margaret Thatcher on Putin

Paul Johnson, April 2014

‘I feel an intense antipathy for Vladimir Putin. No one on the international scene has aroused in me such dislike since Stalin died. Though not a mass killer on the Stalin scale, he has the same indifference to human life. There is a Stalinist streak of gangsterism too: his ‘loyalists’ wear masks as well as carry guns. Putin also resembles Hitler in his use of belligerent minorities to spread his power. Am I becoming paranoid about Putin? I hope not.’

Margaret Thatcher, September 2000

"Now we have the new Mr. Putin. I looked at the pictures of Mr. Putin, trying to look for a trace of humanity. I should, within a few weeks, have known better. Because you know what happened? They had the terrible tragedy of the submarine going down, straight to the floor. Whether there was an explosion inside or not, we don't know.

"But it was very interesting what happened. If ever there is a calamity in the West, the whole of the armed forces will go, they'll take everything there immediately. The politicians will immediately get together and say 'What help do we want, they can have anything we can give. We haven't got the help [then] we'll get it from somewhere else.'

"There would be anxiety because what mattered was not the submarine but the lives of those in. And [the] interesting thing was the new leader of the Soviet Union didn't act quickly. This was very soon the comment. He didn't try to mobilize anyone else. We didn't know whether we could help, or where to go help and send some of the small submarines just for such an occasion. That my friends was very, very revealing indeed.

"They still do not value human life in the same way that we do. And so all the help got there, I'm afraid, really rather late. And I am relieved in one way that Mr. Putin got so much criticism for what he should have done but didn't. And that again shows the Soviet Union and the peoples of the Soviet Union are very much aware of what could be done and that a great more deal could be done than is being done at the moment.


  1. Putin abandoned the Kursk when it sank with utter cold indifference. He blamed the United States for the debacle. The US has done a lot of bad things, of course, but there is no evidence linking it to the sinking of the Kursk. The callousness and the misplaced accusation were early warning signs.

    The dimwit George W Bush claimed that he could see depths of faith and goodness in Putin's soul. George's stupidity could be seen from outer space.

  2. Maggie refers to the Russian Federation as the "Soviet Union" in the year 2000, was she senile by then? And as for Paul Johnson, I understand he's supposed to be some sort of intellectual, but his words reveal him to have the horizons of a provincial narrow-minded schoolmarm. Here we see the story of the West since 1945, women larping as statesmen and men who would (in better times) be nondescript accountants in some small town passing off as 'historians', all while wearing the skinsuit of something they never built nor could ever understand.

  3. I don't think a twenty year old comment based on old prejudices by a semi demented prime minister who assented to the assassination of a Swedish prime minister is a good guide to diplomacy in 2022 with a nuclear armed superpower.