It could have been worse, yes, but just look at the state we are in. During the 10 years of plenty, 1997-2007, public spending went through the roof, much of it wasted, the planned budget deficit this year is £121 billion and the interest bill is £50 billion.
At times, the civil servants’ role is to save politicians from themselves. Sir Gus is proud to have been instrumental in stopping Britain joining the euro in 2003 when he was Permanent Secretary at the Treasury. “We did the biggest evidence-based piece of work I’ve ever done. My only regret now is we didn’t get it translated into Greek and send it across. There were a number of politicians who, out of a belief that the politics was the crucial part, wanted us to go in. Imagine what state we’d be in if we’d been in the euro.”
Is Sir Gus "proud to have been instrumental" in that success, too?