Andrew's Column: Comrade Sunak, Zindabad!
Everything has been turned upside down in the age of coronavirus - and in Britain, Conservatives are behaving like Communists
After all, he is a member of the Conservative party and of a Conservative government. So you can see how I made the error.
But let's take the key tenets of Conservatism: individualism rather than collectivism and advocating a small state, light touch regulation, low taxes, frugal public spending and distinctly modest welfare payments and, of course, allowing the market and private enterprise to flourish unhindered. By those tests, Sunak is not simply no Conservative ... he's a Communist!
'Red Rishi' Sunak has only been in office for six weeks and he's done more to bring about state control of the economy than all Britain's nominally socialist prime ministers combined.
In the past week, Comrade Sunak offered a bail-out to businesses large and small suffering in the age of coronavirus, from airlines to corner cafes. The total government money committed to this good cause - in the form of grants, business loan guarantees and writing off taxes - amounted to £350 billion. £350 BILLION!
That's thirty times the amount Sunak had pledged in his budget speech just days earlier to easing the economic crisis following in the wake of the virus. It's an astonishing 15% of GDP, more than £5,000 for every man, woman and child in the country - and roughly the equivalent of (and there were so many noughts around when I worked this out I am worried about occasioning another apology 30 lakh crore rupees.
And it didn't end there: a couple of days later, Sunak returned to the government's briefing room to announce even more extraordinary measures to stave off a deep economic depression by protecting private sector jobs. The government will now meet up to 80% of the wages of those who would otherwise be out of work - which will cost about £10 billion for every one per cent of the private sector workforce embraced by the scheme.
So the message, indeed the instruction, to businesses of all sizes is don't sack your staff, even if you have been forced to close, because the government will reimburse you for your wages bill.
And if you rely on welfare benefits, you haven't been forgotten. Universal Credit, the main benefit for those in need and for the working poor, has been boosted by £20 a week.
You see what I mean about communism! This is not state ownership of the economy. Sunak & Co have very cleverly sidestepped that trap door - we have state control, so it hardly matters who owns the companies.
Let's put this alongside all the other breathtaking measures the government has announced over the past week: all pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants have been ordered to close (except for takeaways); so too have gyms and betting shops. Schools and colleges aren't expected to open again before September. Almost all churches and other places of worship have stopped holding services; most heritage venues are closed. Landlords have been ordered not to evict tenants who are behind on the rent. Much of the capacity of Britain's private hospitals, along with their staff, has been requisitioned by the government - at cost price - to bolster the specialist care available for the anticipated surge of virus patients.
On Mothers' Day on Sunday, the prime minister appealed to the nation not to visit their mothers for fear of spreading the virus to those most vulnerable. Tubes, buses and trains are still running - though with much reduced services - but we've all been told not to travel, even locally, unless we are essential workers. You can go for a walk in the park but must keep two paces away from everyone else.
There's more to come - certainly financial help for freelance workers and those in the 'gig' economy, perhaps more stringent rent controls (and even reductions), possibly measures against those who have found a way of profiteering out of people's anxiety.
It's a fundamental redrawing of the role of the state - what you might call 'corona socialism'. Whether this will have a lasting impact, who knows - but it does feel that the tectonic plates of politics are shifting.
And the finance minister, much to his credit, has not been a reluctant convert to the need for mutual support - and for the state to take the lead in achieving that. He beamed with positivity and reassurance while announcing measures he described - accurately - as "unprecedented in British history".
It's almost as if this crisis has unleashed his inner Bolshevik. Rishi Sunak, Zindabad!