Seven months ago I wrote that in his problems with public sector pay on many fronts, Sunak had been immeasurably helped by the sheer number of concurrent disputes, and the extreme claims being made in some of them. There was 'obviously' no scope for him to concede them all, so he would find it easier to resist them en bloc.
And thus, it seems, things have transpired. How many PMs have even been able to stand at the lectern and say, no more talking, that's yer lot - and plausibly get away with it? But, plus or minus the junior doctors, he might have done.
Even more remarkably, he even chucked in a culture-war twist: the award is to be partially funded 'by "significantly" increasing charges for migrants coming to the UK when they apply for visas and the levy they pay to access the NHS'. To my amazement this has been very little commented upon (yet), and we may guess any belated squeals will not be originating officially from the Opposition front bench.
Is this the fabled Smack of Firm Government? It has some of the trappings. And in Starmer's current mode of saying 'no' (to the considerable dismay of the Left & the greenies) to everything that anyone suggests deserves a call on his largesse when putatively in power, presumably he's essentially going to take this development lying down - though it is always possible to script a hostile soundbite in response to anything.
So how does it all play? Does it basically strengthen Sunak's standing with voters? Or will it be a cause of sullen resentment? A lot will depend on "whether it works", i.e. whatever inflation does next. In any event, Starmer's stern stance makes resentment a lot harder to parlay into votes for Labour, so maybe it's the smaller parties that pick up the resenters. Which, of course, may be a decent second-best for the Tories at the next GE.
(a) the predicted cries of anguish haven't been long in coming - from "charities, unions and politicians". "Borderline racist", they cry. But not Labour politicians, naturally (see above).
(b) see strikethrough below and dearieme's comment
 Of course, BTL here Kev has pointed out the remarkable
inflation-busting 'award' already made (passively, under the triple-lock) to pensioners, possibly to be repeated next time too. But, hey, priorities / politics / votes.
 I find it hard to believe we've heard the last of this. Not least, because the Tories are likely to big it up in order to provoke a leftie response.