THE Conservatives have always been the political version of Monty Python’s Dennis Moore, who stole from the poor to give to the rich. This week’s Budget has given them the opportunity to pretend they’re the saviours of Scotland, even though what has really happened is that they’ve decided to stop ripping us off in one particular way. Ruth Davidson and her not-so-merry band of 13 are taking the credit for Philip Hammond’s decision to stop charging the Scottish emergency services VAT despite the fact that the SNP have made no less than 139 representations to the UK Government on the subject.

The Tories are a whole lot less noisy about the fact the Chancellor also announced more money for the NHS in England, but used an arcane funding method which ensured Scotland’s NHS won’t benefit proportionately.

They’re not shouting from the rooftops that Phil is spending £3 billion to benefit home-owners in England, but not in Scotland. They’re keen to trumpet supposed £2bn of funding for Scotland, but less keen to publicise all the many strings that come attached to it or the fact that day-to-day spending for Scotland will decrease as a result of this Budget. So let’s big up the VAT relief for the polis.

Asked to supply details of the representations that the Scottish Tories have made to the Chancellor about the VAT on the Scottish emergency services, which have apparently been successful where the 139 from the SNP have not, Davidson has been doing what she usually does when faced with awkward questioning. She does her impression of a BBC Scotland reporter doorstepping her over the Conservative councillors accused of racism and bigotry. She’s nowhere to be seen, in other words.

Since the Scottish emergency services were reformed into a single police force and single fire service, they’ve been subject to VAT whereas the equivalent services elsewhere in the UK were VAT exempt. This was because of some fine print in the VAT regulations which only allowed exemption for services controlled by local authorities.

Once the police and fire services became Scottish national services and came under the direct authority of the Scottish Parliament in 2013, they lost this exemption. At any time during the past four years, the Conservative Government could have fixed this anomaly with a simple administrative procedure. They chose not to.

The Tories are now claiming they’ve sorted a mess created by the SNP. However, back in 2011, the SNP weren’t the only party to promise in their manifesto to create a single Scottish national police force. The Labour Party did the same, and so did the Scottish Conservatives. There was only any need in the first place to rationalise the various Scottish police and fire services because of financial pressures on the Scottish budget caused by, you guessed it, the Conservative Government in Westminster. So it was the Tories who created the mess, and they were proposing to tackle it in the exact same way the SNP did.

What really happened this week is that the Conservatives admitted that for the past four years they’ve been punishing Scotland for not being sufficiently Conservative. More than 100 representations were made to the Conservative Government, but the Conservative Government wasn’t minded to listen because they weren’t made by Conservatives. Mind you, their forgiving mood doesn’t extend as far as repaying Police Scotland the £130 million that they’ve already coughed up in VAT payments.

The BBC reported all this in its usual fair and balanced way. Political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted that the VAT relief came after interventions from Scottish Tories. It’s strange that the BBC doesn’t report everything in the same way that it reports politics, especially Scottish politics?

Can you imagine them reporting the weather the same way? Jackie Bird could thank Kawser Quamer for telling us that tomorrow it’s going to be bucketing with rain, and then say: “And now over to Billy McHarrumpher, Conservative councillor for somewhere with loads of colourful historical parades, for a different view.” Actually, given the BBC’s definition of balance as far as the Scottish constitutional debate goes, we’d get weather reports from one meteorologist and three climate change deniers.

This would then be followed by vox pops in a snowstorm during which for every person who said it was a bit parky, the BBC would show us someone wrapped up in scarf and hat and thick coat who was swearing blind that it was taps aff weather and they were looking forward to working on their tan. There’s balance for you.

The Tories are now posing as the champions of Scottish interests. That’s a bit like a rapacious laird during the Highland Clearances who had deported most of the crofters from his land but who decided to spare one small settlement after the tenants agreed to vote for him at the Laird of the Year Awards, and he’s now posing as a champion of crofters’ rights and land reform.

Vote Tory, and we might rob you up slightly less than we have been robbing you. But don’t expect us to pay you back what we’ve taken. It isn’t a great slogan, but it’s a whole lot closer to the truth.