The latest on books and the arts


Obama, Orwell and the NHS

Why the American right gets it wrong on two counts

George Orwell

Attempts by the American right to undermine Barack Obama's proposed health-care reforms by circulating bizarre statistical inaccuracies about the National Health Service have been roundly condemned. But it's not just the conservative campaigners' facts that miss the mark; their rhetoric, which denounces the NHS as an "Orwellian" piece of state machinery, is also suspect. Here is a feature from last week's Times Literary Supplement about the uses and abuses of the term. Hardly a day passes, writes Richard Vinen, "when some politician or journalist does not denounce something or other as 'Orwellian', a word that Orwell would have hated".