20 March 2012

"The Queen said exactly the same thing to me yesterday"

He loved to cite Bagehot's view that the "essence of Toryism is enjoyment". Rather more furtively, he quoted Bagehot's faith in the "stupidity" of the English, by which he meant a stolid resistance to novelty, and thus to the wilder excesses of ideology [...]

Says Lord Lamont, a former chancellor of the exchequer and a friend for 40 years: "He was above all a Tory romantic. He loved Victoriana, Disraeli and Gladstone, but he saw good things in modernity".

Many tributes have dwelt on his personal contradictions. They describe a boundless immodesty redeemed by self-mocking wit - on being accused of name-dropping, St John-Stevas is said to have sighed: "The Queen said exactly the same thing to me yesterday".

- Obituary of Norman St John-Stevas (1929-2012), Baron St John of Fawsley, Leader of the House of Commons 1979-81, MP for Chelmsford 1964-87; in the Economist, 10 March 2012. 
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