Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has taken the sagging of the public sector unions' fight on pensions as a cue to flag up an even weaker Labour stance on cuts.
On 10 January he declared that: "Whoever is the next prime minister will not have money to spend. We will have to make difficult choices that all of us wish we did not have to make".
Decoded: Miliband plans for the next Labour government to continue the Tories' and Lib-Dems' cuts, only more softly. And Labour's objection to the current cuts - "too far, too fast" - will become even more muted.
The coalition's cuts, by pushing down overall economic output, have increased, not reduced, the budget deficit. Even within the parameters of bourgeois economics, the argument which Ed Balls made when running for the Labour leadership, that the crisis calls for government spending to boost output, not cuts, has been confirmed.
Yet Balls himself is now putting that argument only in a barely-audible mumble.
Even in the crisis, there is plenty of "money to spend". The question is, who has it? While workers' real pay was pushed down, and social spending was cut, the directors of the top 100 companies saw their average total earnings jump 49 per cent to almost £2.7m in 2010-11.
The unions should call Miliband to account on his servile acceptance of Tory calculations, and demand a Labour policy which taxes the rich to rebuild social provision.