THIS week, Conservative MP Ben Bradley will make a “substantial donation”, likely a five-figure sum, to homeless charities and food banks in his Mansfield constituency. Meanwhile, the Labour Party’s leftist faction Momentum reported a large spike in membership numbers: already outnumbering Ukip, Momentum is on track to sweep past the Greens and the Tories in the coming year and will itself become one of Britain’s biggest parties.

These are the two main outcomes of a week of hysterical tabloid headlines linking Jeremy Corbyn with a Communist spy network. And the blowback doesn’t even end there. If, for a Tory MP, being forced to make a five-figure donation to the poor and needy victims of welfare cuts will hurt like a kick in the nuts, Bradley’s cringing apology to Corbyn must have been as enjoyable as passing a dozen kidney stones. “I fully accept my statement was wholly untrue and false,” wrote Bradley. “I accept that I caused distress and upset to Jeremy Corbyn by my untrue and false allegations.”

That this curious case – spygate, I’m calling it – led not to Corbyn’s tearful resignation but instead to food bank donations and a bumper week for hard-left recruitment illustrates a quiet revolution in attitudes to managing the press. Spygate isn’t an isolated incident: it’s not even isolated to the Labour Party. After all, the tabloid monstering of Scottish nationalism in 2014 was almost certainly the biggest factor behind the massive growth in SNP membership after the referendum.

Not long ago, tabloid editors essentially dictated the entire communications strategy of both Westminster parties. This allowed the billionaire newspaper proprietors, a massively unrepresentative basket of deplorables with a set of personality quirks that make Aleister Crowley look like a chartered accountant, to hold the entire voting public to ransom.

Westminster leaders did everything possible to indulge the whims of these mega-rich crackpots. Indeed, this servility was regarded as the essence of good spin. For the tabloid owners themselves, a sorry gang of non-chic Bond villains, this was the only possible joy of owning a newspaper that would likely lose millions each year. The power trip of dictating the morning agenda to Cabinet ministers was their compensation for owning one of the world’s least profitable enterprises.

The main outcome of that era’s politics was a compulsory ideology of witless patriotism. New Labour never lost an opportunity to assert British power, violently, worrying that any hesitation would allow the Tories to outflank them. To a large extent that reflected Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s apparently sincere belief in the moral uprightness of Britain’s civilising historical mission. But it also reflected their fear that any Labour leader who betrayed even a smidgen of pacifism would be crucified by the tabloids, a fate leading to inevitable electoral death.

It took a long time for this fear factor to recede. On one memorable occasion, the Daily Mail published an article titled The Man Who Hated Britain, a typically rancid hatchet job attacking Ed Miliband’s late father. It was a key moment because Miliband’s basic human desire to defend his dead dad from vile attacks was pitched up against New Labour standard practice where every pathetic tabloid whim must be indulged. In the end, decency won, and Miliband quite rightly stood his ground. But the outcome wasn’t certain: there was an audible gasp when Miliband first challenged the editor of a bestselling newspaper, and many openly wondered whether he really understood the fine art of managing the media.

Similarly, Corbyn’s early failure to appease tabloid hysteria was presented as clear evidence that he must be intellectually subnormal and unworthy of a leading role in politics. In one memorable incident, Corbyn was lambasted, not for failing to bow, but for failing to bow deeply enough. Tired of these cases of deficient patriotism, angry Labour MPs led two attempted coups against Corbyn based on his alleged failure to grasp the basics of communications management.

Whether intentionally or not, left-inclined party leaders have stumbled on a formula for effective leadership. It consists of some basic self-respect and political backbone. For decades, British democracy was held hostage by severely strange men with extremist ideologies. Thankfully that era is dying. It doesn’t resolve the many glaring failures in the British political system, but it’s wonderful to watch a once all-powerful ruling clique squirming in embarrassment.

Lastly, on behalf of the homeless and hungry people of Nottinghamshire, I’d like to thank the tabloids for continuing to publish libellous trash. At least that way, they’re doing a public service.