IT’S been a busy day in politics. We had FMQs at Holyrood and the much anticipated and dreaded Autumn Statement from the Chancellor at Westminster. The statement is necessary because of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng's disastrous experiment in the free market fundamentalist economics of the far-right think tanks of Tufton Street, which cost the public purse some £30 billion.

This has exacerbated the global economic problems caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and, together with previous Conservative decisions such as allowing the energy companies to run down gas storage facilities and an ideologically and party political driven hard Brexit, the Conservatives have placed the UK in a uniquely difficult position to deal with wider economic challenges.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross leaves us seasick over shipbuilding during FMQs

Naturally, there was not a sliver of recognition of that reality from Jeremy Hunt as he rose in the Commons to deliver his budget statement. It was all the fault of the bogeyman in the Kremlin, and nothing whatsoever to do with the party that has been in government for the past twelve years and its abject failure to build resilience into the British economy to allow it to better weather downturns in the global economic climate.

Of course, it's the poorest who will bear the brunt of Conservative mismanagement. Hunt announced £268 million extra to the DWP to help it crack down on “benefit fraud” because that's the real problem with British public finances, not the many billions more lost to the public purse by tax avoidance, tax evasion and tax loopholes which can be taken advantage of by the wealthy. According to the fact-checking website, the estimated cost to the Treasury of benefit fraud was around £2.3 bn a year in 2018/19.

That is not an inconsequential figure, however, 1400 staff already investigated benefit fraud as of 2018 and another 2000 were being hired before Hunt's announcement today. According to the House of Commons Library, it is estimated that in 2019/20 the financial loss from tax avoidance was £1.5bn, while the cost of tax evasion was £5.5bn. Other estimates on the cost of tax evasion are far higher and place the number of tax revenues lost to the Treasury through non-payment, avoidance and fraud at around £35bn. But these are frauds committed largely by middle-class business people in suits in leafy suburbs, not by working-class people struggling to make ends meet in social housing estates.

Hunt also announced measures to ensure that some 600,000 people on universal credit will effectively be forced into work, irrespective of their personal circumstances. It's not much of an exaggeration to describe this as a form of conscription for the poor. Not all these people are fit and healthy, many of them will have caring commitments and Hunt has made no provision for the people that they care for. Those forced to work additional hours will have similar issues plus the cost of childcare meaning they could work at a loss.

The Tories have trashed the economy but according to this detestable lot, the poor must pay for Conservative mistakes because everyone on benefits is lazy. If people are sick, disabled or elderly, what do you want them to do? People are only working part-time because that's all they can do. Yet again, it's "do as we say, not what we do" from the Tories and the expectation that those who are most impacted by Conservative mismanagement should pay the price of it.

The cuts to public services, the tax rises on ordinary workers, all these are happening because of Brexit and the Conservative party. We are looking at another round of price hikes in energy bills in April because the Tories prefer to allow the energy companies to profiteer rather than claw back their unearned profits in order to ensure affordable energy for millions of ordinary people.

As unsurprising as Hunt's assault on the poorest and most vulnerable was Douglas Ross appearing at FMQs today and studiously avoiding any mention of what his Westminster masters were announcing in the Commons, instead he chose to bang on about ferries again, an excuse and distraction that is as convenient to Ross as Putin is to Hunt. Ross thinks Scotland exists in some sort of negativity bubble, everything bad in Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish Government, and everything good is due to the grace and generosity of the British state.