13 DECEMBER 1963, Page 13

Spectator's Notebook

The Times still has a priceless, if sometimes alarming, quality of un- predictability. The three long leading articles which it has devoted, on con- secutive days, to examin- ing the practical realities of the Robbins Report, were in themselves a journalistic event; they have understandably made an immediate impression in the academic world; and I would have thought they were certain to have a wider political effect. But what interests me most is that they challenged, at the root, the all-too-facile acceptance of words like 'growth,' 'expansion,' and 'modernisation.' All of us, of course, approve of these things. But, as words, they have been in danger of becoming shib- boleths. Rubber-stamp any report, plan or policy with one of them, and rational examination of it almost immediately stops. The easy use of such words encourages a climate of opinion which is the enemy of good government; and I find it in- teresting that The Times, which has been girding us all summer in just this kind of language, should now take the lead in questioning it.