Alan snubs Tina
Labour abandoned Prudence a long time ago but today the shadow chancellor attacked her succesor Tina. Those of a certain age - and Alan Johnson keeps reminding us that he is of a certain age - will recall that Tina was an acronym from the Thatcher years for her claim that "There Is No Alternative".
Johnson did not spell out an alternative policy but sketched out an alternative approach which puts the emphasis on growth, not deficit reduction; warns that Britain is more likely to follow Ireland than Greece; calls for fewer and slower spending cuts and for higher taxes - though not on "ordinary people".
For the moment I see more politics than economics here. Labour have decided not to have an argument about the need for cuts nor to have one about welfare reform but, instead, to position themselves ready to say "I told you so" if growth falters and as defenders of child benefit and critics of bankers bonuses.
Here are a few key extracts from his speech:
"We argue for a slower pace of deficit reduction - to support growth and jobs.
"We support specific tax rises - protecting crucial investment that will deliver growth for the future.
"And we recognise that welfare must play its part in bringing spending down - protecting public services.
"Clearly there is an alternative.
"The coalition's austerity strategy amounts to a huge risk with growth and jobs.
"By going hell for leather on cuts, at a time when the private sector cannot be expected to pick up the slack, they run the risk of leaving us with higher unemployment, deprived communities and a diminished society.
"Taking a slower, less damaging route as we propose provides a credible plan, securing growth and protecting public services.
"Requiring a greater contribution from the banks. And tough choices on spending and welfare.
"So there is another way. The Government needs to unlash itself from the mast and take a new direction."
"Yes - there must be cuts. Tough choices do have to be made - a point I will return to.
"But without growth, attempts to cut the deficit will be self defeating.
"A rising dole queue means a bigger welfare bill. And less tax coming in.
"In the current circumstances the government should at the very least be re-profiling their deficit reduction plan."
"Having been in semi-retirement since the 1980s TINA has reappeared. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE say Cameron and Clegg.
"Tina is the justification for the U-turn on VAT, on rocketing tuition fees, on means testing child benefit and £6bn of in-years cuts."
On children... and bankers:
"The Government, which claims 'fairness', has put itself in the absurd position of saying that children should play a bigger role in getting the deficit down than the banks.
"The banking sector is contributing £2.4bn, while child benefit freezes and cuts will raise substantially more.
"So families take the strain while bankers grab the bonuses. There is no justification for such an unfair sharing of the burden."