He finally said it. There will be cuts. But Gordon Brown waited until he was nearly half an hour into his speech to admit it. (Bottom of page 7 out of 8).
And he wedged the stuff about deficit, hard choices, sustainable finances, cutting costs into a handful of paragraphs. The rest of the speech was the usual glorious talk about saving the global economy, the national economy and the range of initiatives which Labour has thrown out in the last year. And – to be fair – there were two genuinely big policy pledges.
More paternity leave and the swift implementation* of the temporary workers directive will please unions and, you’d have thought, workers. The business lobby might not be so happy but neither concept is exactly a surprise (the only question on the directive was its exact timing).
My eagle-eyed colleague Jean Eaglesham points out that the government is only putting the temporary workers directive on the statute book in the next Parliamentary year. This is not the same as the implementation date. We still don’t know when that is going to be. In other words, this may not be much of a gift to the unions (and temps) as it sounded at first.