James Forsyth

Cameron’s sentence

Cameron's sentence
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Peggy Noonan, who used to write speeches for Ronald Reagan, has a thought-provoking anecdote in her column today:

“Clare Boothe Luce told about a conversation she had in 1962 in the White House with her old friend John F. Kennedy. She told him, she said, that "a great man is one sentence." His leadership can be so well summed up in a single sentence that you don't have to hear his name to know who's being talked about. "He preserved the union and freed the slaves," or, "He lifted us out of a great depression and helped to win a World War." You didn't have to be told "Lincoln" or "FDR."

She wondered what Kennedy's sentence would be. She was telling him to concentrate, to know the great themes and demands of his time and focus on them.”

Transformative leader know where they are trying to take the country, what their mission is. One of the conversations you hear most frequently on the right is whether Cameron has what it takes to be that kind of leader. Sometime there are signs he does. Other times, he appears to be too cautious, too tactical to be a truly consequential Prime Minister.

But it struck me as worth contemplating what sentence Cameron should be aiming for. My opening offer would be, ‘He gave power back to the people.’ I think this is the most exciting aspect of the Cameron agenda. If he follows through on it, it could change the country for better, for good. But I’d welcome your suggestions, there’ll be the usual bottle of champagne for the best one.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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