A neat case of opinion-smuggling

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Sir, Gus O’Donnell (“A singular election that will test the civil service”, February 14) is largely neutral in his discussion of the complexities of the coalition kaleidoscope, but begs two important questions when he refers to “a spending review most politicians know will have to be very tough” and then describes the present coalition as “stable and radical”.

The first assertion is an expression of opinion masquerading as a fact, for decisions about spending will be just that: there are genuine differences of view between the austerians and those who believe that austerity has damaged the UK’s and other economies, and will damage them further if prolonged. The second assertion could also easily catch the reader unawares: yes, the coalition has survived without interruption and has thus ipso facto been stable, but whether it has been radical is, again, a matter of widely divergent opinions.

I wonder if such opinion-smuggling has always been characteristic of Civil Service briefs.

Andrew Anderson

Edinburgh, UK

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