It was a telling sign that even the Telegraph couldn’t ignore Jeremy Corbyn’s contribution to the Conservative’s pledge of 4,000 new buses to boost local transport outside of London this week.
Begrudgingly conceding that it was “one of the things” the outgoing Labour leader got right, James Kirkup pointed out that Corbyn had repeatedly warned that an underfunded and neglected bus network was holding Britain back.
Indeed, he had made the point to sneers of derision during a PMQs in 2018, arguing that with two and half times more bus journey than train journeys it really should be something politicians prioritise more.
Tory MPs howled with contempt, bellowing “Taxi!” in response. “A question about buses. That will win it!” spluttered the Sun.
Truly transformative role
But lo and behold just weeks into Boris Johnson’s second administration and it is the buses that the Tories are championing with a £5 billion pledge to revolutionise the local transport network.
Mr Johnson said: “Local transport connections have a truly transformative role to play in levelling up infrastructure across the country.
“Our daily journeys for work or leisure are about so much more than just getting from A to B – they are the key to accessing skilled jobs and opportunities, boosting businesses and unlocking economic growth for towns, cities and regions across this country.
“That’s why improving connectivity by overhauling bus services and making cycling easier than ever is such an important step forward, to make sure every community has the foundations it needs to thrive.”
It was as though Mr Corbyn had scripted it himself.
Of course, it wasn’t the first Labour policy that the Johnson and Co would claim as their own early into their administration.
At the end of January Grant Shapps, transport secretary, confirmed that Northern will be removed from the control of Arriva and placed in the hands of the UK government’s “operator of last resort”.
South Western Railway is also under threat of renationalisation and West Midlands Trains have reportedly hit the buffers, making Corbyn’s “crazy” renationalisation plans seem not so crazy.
The nationalisation of Northern rail is the second such move by a Tory government in under two years, after the East Coast main line collapsed and was taken over by the operator of last resort in June 2018, much as Labour had foretold.
Outside the Brexit debacle which is dominating the headlines, there is much evidence to suggest that the Conservatives are practically ripping off a Labour manifesto that so many voters rejected at the last election.
On the NHS front, the prime minister has pledged to build 100 new hospitals and give the service an extra £7bn a year for new facilities and equipment.
They have also launched a new “first homes” scheme aimed at providing a leg up on the housing ladder for key workers and backed HS2, much in the same way Corbyn did in his manifesto.
So while it may be the Conservatives in power for an uncomfortable five more years, Corbyn should feel flattered that they are ripping off his agenda on the domestic front.
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