This week, the UK’s Conservative-run government pledged the biggest employment support package in the nation’s history: state-funded grants to cover 80 per cent of each worker’s salary, up to the value of £2,500 per month. Dubbed the coronavirus job retention scheme, the payments will last until at least March and will be extended as long as is necessary. Announcing the measures, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said there was no limit to the amount of money that would be paid out.

If you didn’t see this coming from the traditionally business-first, austerity-cheerleading Conservatives, that’s because they didn’t either. Nobody could have predicted the scale of the devastation, both socially and economically, wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. With large swathes of the economy essentially forced to shut up shop for months - and faced by the quick and unified action of the trade unions - Mr Sunak was left with little alternative but to make this unprecedented intervention, the like of which was not even seen in wartime, and which will almost certainly end up dwarfing the bank bailout of 2008 by comparison.

By forcing the Conservative government into a corner on this state intervention, the pandemic has also forced them to admit some truths that many would rather stayed hidden. Large-scale borrowing is possible. Citizens can be bailed out, not just banks and business. There can be support when things go wrong. There’s always been enough to go round.

These are truths that have long been scoffed at when those on the left tried to highlight them - most recently Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in last year’s General Election which, unbelievably, took place just three months ago. Plans for wide-ranging nationalisation, the abolishment of tuition fees and free broadband for all were made a laughing stock of by opposition politicians and establishment media alike, whose taunting most often took some form of the question “how are you going to pay for that?”

Many will remember the BBC’s Emma Barnett mockingly asking Angela Rayner if the party wanted to nationalise sausages; it wasn’t necessary for the Conservative Chancellor to specifically mention meat-based products in last week’s announcement when he essentially nationalised almost every industry in the country in one quick sweep.

When former prime minister Theresa May infamously remarked that “there isn’t a magic money tree we can shake that suddenly provides for everything that people want”, it was in response to a nurse whose pay had been frozen for eight years and who was struggling to survive on her wage. If it seemed callous at the time, it seems unthinkable in the current moment. Not only does the magic money tree exist, underpaid nurses and their like should be first in line to shake it.

Because while Mr Sunak deserves few platitudes for doing the only thing possible and conscionable under current circumstances, he will surely be credited with changing politics forever. Now we’ve seen that money can be borrowed to help those in need, how can we ever justify leaving people homeless on the streets? Now we know there’s no limit on the cost of state intervention, why should anyone struggling ever have to pay for childcare? When it’s clear that political will is all that stands between poverty and the spending of trillions of pounds, how can we ever look at a foodbank again?

The genie is out of the bottle: the free market is not infallible or inevitable; ending inequality is possible. Things can never be the same again.

Of course, this is not the utopia that any on the left would wish for. Short-term crisis response is not an ideology, and nor is the maintained concentration of the levers of power with a small group of politicians socialism. But the scale of intervention pledged by Sunak cannot be overstated or removed from its context in history: in the UK, in our lifetimes and beyond, we have never seen the likes of it.

Coronavirus has already put immense strain on the world’s citizens and the global economy, with far worse expected to come. Praise for Mr Sunak has been widespread across the political and media class since his announcement, with many who have long sneered at “Corbynomics” lauding the Chancellor for his decisive leadership.