Peter Hoskin

Gus O’Donnell’s warning

Gus O'Donnell's warning
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Heads of the civil service rarely give interviews - especially not to voice their opinions on live political issues - so you know Gus O'Donnell must be worried about the public finances when he brings up the prospect of cuts in conversation with the Times today. Here's the

key passage:

"Asked whether he agreed with a policy adopted in Canada, where spending was cut by 20 per cent and some departments had much deeper cuts than others, [O'Donnell] said: 'You could envisage a situation where you go for deeper dives on this, most certainly.'"

O'Donnell's comments - which go further than pretty much any poltician has managed so far - show how foolish it is to deny the necessity of spending cuts.  It's unsurprising, then, that Labour are now spinning about their "nice cuts" against "nasty Tory cuts".  But I suspect that particular approach has been fatally undermined by Brown's crude "investment vs cuts" bravado of a few weeks ago.  Maybe, as per his advice for Cameron and Clegg yesterday, the Dear Leader should reflect on that over the summer recess.