James Forsyth

Hutton on the Brown tragedy

Hutton on the Brown tragedy
Text settings

John Hutton’s resignation from the Cabinet was the oddest of the recent spate of them. Hutton, who was once one of Brown’s fiercest critics, quit his dream job in government but simultaneously professed his loyalty to the Prime Minister.

But in an interview with Andrew Neil to air this weekend, Hutton is critical of Brown’s messaging and strategy if not of the man himself. He says of Brown’s Labour investement versus Tory cuts line:

“I think that’s a bit too crude a message.  I think that’s going to have to be, sort of, refined.  Everyone knows that the belt, the national belt, is going to have to be tightened and they want honesty from politicians and they want to know what their priorities are for public spending because we certainly can’t go on, I believe, spending at the rate that we are.  So what are your choices?  And this is what I think the election will be.  I think if we try and pretend that there will be no economies I think we’re heading for trouble because I don’t think that is where the country are.

If it’s just a blanket “we’ll spend more than the other guys” then I don’t really think that’s the message for the times, that people want to hear.”
Perhaps the most telling line in the interview, though, is Hutton’s more in sorrow than in anger summing up of Brown’s premiership:

“I have got to appreciate his many, many talents and skills; I think, though, that the tragedy is that the country doesn’t see that.”

Written byJames Forsyth

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

Topics in this articleSociety