What Gordon really said
Did Gordon Brown really say anything new?
After all, the Tories say that he was just repeating what's in Labour's manifesto. The defence secretary seemed to agree when he said that what he was saying was "entirely consistent" with the manifesto. So where does that leave people like yours truly who insist he is saying something significant?
In terms of what Gordon Brown actually said I can only point to the four words - "in the long run" - which the chancellor added to the manifesto commitment to maintain Britain's independent nuclear deterrent. Manifesto commitments last only one Parliamentary term. Trident can't simply be maintained in the long run. It must be either updated or replaced. Thus Gordon Brown is saying something that the manifesto did not say - that he's ready to spend billions doing that.
Then you add to that what he didn't say, but which I've been told. The chancellor is ready to back the advice of military leaders, and he expects the decision to be taken in principle before the end of the year.
Why on earth - you may ask - didn’t he just say that explicitly instead of relying on people like me to explain what he really meant? Why allow the doubt? Does he want "deniability"?
Well, he could not say "I am committed to updating Trident" because it's not his announcement to make. He is not - in case you've forgotten - the prime minister. Furthermore, ministers have not yet sat down to take this decision - even though they have been discussing the need to take it for several years. Thus he used journalists to spell out what he did not. Believe you me, I wish he would use code and spin less and speak in plain English a little more. Then we could focus on the real debate.
That debate should focus on whether Britain's nuclear deterrent is, as one Labour backbencher says, "unacceptably expensive, economically wasteful and militarily unsound".
The name of that rebel? Gordon Brown speaking in 1984.