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The once-cautious Theresa May is turning into a risk-taker

By Paul Goodman

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My old friend and former Premier league triallist Daniel Hannan has a party piece in which he reels off the names of quangoes with indignant horror: the proliferation of the quangocracy was a theme of his and Douglas Carswell's The Plan.  And despite Francis Maude's campaign to curb the quangoes, which has had some successes, it's been very hard to get rid of them.  Indeed, in some cases the Government has created more.  Consider the NHS Commissioning Board, created by Andrew Lansley specifically to distance Ministers from the day-to-day management of the NHS: the scheme was dreamed up during the halcyon days of opposition, when it was stressed that if we won the election he and his successors would be Secretaries of State for Public Health - policy-makers rather than administrators.

Theresa May's sudden abolition of the Border Agency is thus against the trend. Shock horror: Cabinet Minister to take more responsibility if things go wrong.  The Guardian's experienced Home Affairs Editor, Alan Travis, suggests that Downing Street may have set the timing of the move.  It is certainly the right one: the Home Affairs Select Committee's shredding of the Agency earlier this week was only the latest staging-post in its lurching journey.  But it is none the less a big risk for Mrs May, and one that other Home Secretaries would have found a way of avoiding.  It's thus striking and rather admirable that she has placed her neck on the block.  Most politicians get more risk-averse in office.  A smaller number, as they grow exasperated with the ways of Westminster and Whitehall, get less.  Both this decision and her speech to ConservativeHome's recent conference are signs that the Home Secretary may now be among their number.


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