One of the main jobs top civil servants have – arguably the only main job – is to tell politicians that their policies are reckless if that is the way a sober look at things adds up.

If the politicians then ignore the advice, civil servants have all sorts of guileful ways at their disposal to cause trouble to persuade them to change course. Or they can resign. Either is fine.

But, alas, our top civil servants had a better plan. To sit their giggling nervously:

When asked directly what prevented civil servants from telling politicians that borrowing was too high, he said: “The politics was that we had put an end to boom and bust.”

Turnbull added: “We had a sense of overconfidence; it happened all around the world, but it was a rather extreme form of it in the UK.”

… Turnbull said that that excessive borrowing started to be a problem from 2005. “It kind of crept up on us in 2005, 2006, 2007, and we were still expanding public spending at 4.5 percent a year,” he said, arguing that the Treasury should have been putting more money aside.

“You might have thought that we should have been giving priority to getting borrowing under better control, putting money aside in the good years – and it didn’t happen,” he commented.

This being the modern British civil service, they can’t write about this without an illiterate eggcorn:

Speaking last month, the retired civil service chief said it was too difficult for civil servants to call for public spending to be reigned in until after the financial crisis hit.

Since it’s now official that these top people failed to do their most basic job properly, presumably it’s OK to murder their pensions as a punishment pour encourager les autres?