Magazine article The Spectator

One for the Gipper

Magazine article The Spectator

One for the Gipper

Article excerpt

'Government is like a baby,' said Ronald Reagan, who if he were still alive would be this Sunday celebrating his 100th birthday, 'endless appetite at one end, and no responsibility at the other.' British politicians tend not to make such jokes - and we are poorer for it. Reagan's humour stemmed from his sense of clarity: he knew what he was doing, and he wanted Americans to know, too. His centenary presents us with a good moment to consider his lessons.

Politics should be simple. Yet the current British government has developed an unfortunate habit of making everything sound complicated. Andrew Lansley's health reforms, for instance, are so obtuse that most Cabinet members privately admit they don't understand them. This means that the reform is doomed. If ministers cannot comprehend what is to be done, how can middle managers be expected to have a clue? …

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