How Jeremy Corbyn must be contemplating the irony of ironies. Rejected by the electorate in December because voters could not – or did not want to – believe his manifesto promises to massively increase public spending, he then only three months later witnesses the biggest splurge in history – by a Conservative Government.
If one announcement of hundreds of millions in grants is deemed insufficient Chancellor Rishi Sunak soon comes back with more.
The extra money for benefits has rolled back welfare spending cuts eight years and in the case of unemployment benefit, 20 years. The Resolution Foundation says that the main adult rate of unemployment benefits, having fallen to the lowest real-terms value since the early 1990s is now at its highest level since 1998/99 compared to average adult earnings. The massive bail-out, which the Government had little choice but to launch and has been welcomed across the political spectrum and by the public, has the fingerprints of No 10 all over it since it’s hard to imagine the Treasury willingly stumping up this amount of no-strings cash without a fight.
Critics of Boris always questioned whether either his one-nation side or his Brexit side would dominate; it seems the former has indeed taken charge.
Nor does the irony stop there. The public has rediscovered its love of public sector workers; not just the usual nurses and doctors but refuse workers, care staff, social workers, cleaners, public health employees, the type of occupations generally lowly paid and taken for granted.
Now they are on the frontline battling the virus and council staff are among the key workers needed to keep essential services on the road.
The country has gone Corbynite. Ordinary workers from shelf-stackers to delivery drivers are the new heroes. Look at the furious social media reaction to the eviction of hotel staff by its owners Britannia Hotels in Aviemore. The public sector is in fashion; speculators, hedge fund bankers, billionaires and callous private employers are out. Even as Labour moves back to the centre and away from Corbynist economics, the Government has stolen Corbyn’s thunder anyway.
As Corbyn leaves the political stage his legacy lives on, albeit through completely unpredicted circumstances and with the wrong party. Politics has been upended perhaps forever.