TUC general secretary Brendan Barber wasted no time after Congress delegates voted to explore the practicalities of organising a general strike to call the media together to pour cold water on the idea.
His responsibility should have been to work with unions in pursuit of what is now Congress policy, not to undermine it.
Congress House is still mesmerised by the defeat of the 1926 general strike and seems to have forgotten the success in 1974 when the general council's announcement of action caused the Tory government to capitulate, releasing the Pentonville Five dockers from jail for contravening its anti-union laws.
We are not in that position now any more than we are living through 1926, but there is no reason to become paranoid over this tactic to crystallise working-class anger.
Not only do general strikes take place on a regular basis in other European Union states but Britain's capitalist class has been on an undeclared investment strike for years.
That is part of the problem that confronts workers in Britain.
Business is only interested in projects where its profits are state-guaranteed, as in the systematic private-sector penetration of the public sector.
While German, Japanese and, increasingly, Chinese companies are prepared to invest for the long term, Britain's so-called captains of industry look no further than short-term profits and parasitism, especially in the finance sector.
The fruits of this approach are the shrinkage of Britain's productive sector and a wide-ranging assault on our public services where private profits are provided through cuts in the share given over to salaries, pensions and benefits.
Government finance that was curiously unavailable for public investment in manufacturing or public services was suddenly limitless - £1.3 trillion at the latest count - to prop up private banks, the womb that delivers so many Tory MPs.
The price of this extravagance is paid by public-service workers, their families and the wider population.
All workers are feeling the pinch and yet only 20 per cent of the conservative coalition cuts agenda has been implemented.
How many more vital services have to be savaged, how many more young people dumped on the scrap heap, how much further into debt do wage-frozen workers have to slide before the trade union movement unites in decisive, co-ordinated strike action?
The faint-hearted bleat about the effect on the public and the possibility of alienating possible allies.
Six million trade unionists and their families constitute a substantial part of the public. They see their living standards falling and want action to stop it happening.
Ed Balls's performance at TUC annual conference on Tuesday should leave no-one in any doubt that waiting for Labour's return at the next general election is no panacea.
Labour remains committed to the essence of the bankers' austerity agenda of cuts and a pay freeze despite "too fast, too deep" rhetoric.
Trade unionists don't need a more drawn-out version of the Con-Dem death by a thousand cuts. The same applies to pensioners, benefit claimants and those who rely on public services.
Initiatives such as the October 20 A Future that Works marches and rallies organised by the TUC are a positive development, but the next step has to be co-ordinated mass industrial action.
Protests against the austerity agenda must be the prelude to forcing its complete abandonment by whatever party is in government.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.