ONCE upon a time there were four of them but today there's only one left. Goats is what I'm talking about - the acronymic members of the Government Of All The Talents. The first to arrive in Gordon Brown's government was Digby Jones, former boss of the Confederation of British Industries; then came Mark Malloch-Brown, formerly Kofi Annan's deputy at the United Nations, closely followed by the heart surgeon Ari Darzi and Admiral West of the Royal Navy. Each was made a member of the House of Lords and told to await orders but, as has happened so often in the past, these goats soon found out that their dream of wielding influence on the course of the nation was more of a nightmare as they tried to harness their creative thinking to the necessary discipline of government. The present prime minister is not the first to fail to put goats to good use. The idea works in wartime - as Churchill demonstrated by bringing into his War Cabinet Lord Beaverbrook from his newspaper empire to boost aircraft production and Lord Woolton from Lewis's department stores to run food rationing - but at other times it is usually a disappointing failure. So M'Lords Jones, Malloch-Brown and Darzi have departed from government with little to show for their presence. There is a lesson here for those who suggest that politics would be better if only fewer politicians and more businessmen and other outsiders were at the helm.
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