THE AFTER YEARS
IT is easy to call upon a Government to “take action” to achieve this or that objective. You need not go deeply into questions of ways and means. You can, indeed, attach conditions (carefully but not conspicuously) which are unlikely to be fulfilled, and which you may even know cannot be fulfilled. And when the objective is not achieved, when failure in that sense is plain, it is then all the easier to blame the Government. When there is no longer any possibility of the kind of action you had vaguely and conditionally suggested from time to time, you can be bolder and more specific about what ought to have been done. You can overlook your previous conditions, or, at any rate, minimise their importance. When danger is over, you can condemn the Government for not having taken risks you would certainly not have taken yourself. You can suggest, and even say, that you would have been prepared to take those risks. Or, alternatively, you can maintain that there never were any serious risks, and that it is shameful that the Government did not do what you had carefully refrained from urging that it should do. Of course, you will be challenged, and when challenged you will find yourself in difficulties. You may not be able to get away with it, not altogether anyhow. But you can persist, and more often than not with impunity. Your challengers cannot be everywhere. They may not, indeed, be as active as you are; and, anyhow, they are at a great disadvantage. After all, the desired objective was not achieved, and all sorts of unfortunate consequences can be plausibly attributed to the failure. And you were not the Government.