JEREMY Hunt will set the UK on the path to a deeper recession than we ever need suffer today. Given the current state of the UK economy he should have been announcing interest rate cuts, tax cuts and spending increases in his autumn statement, with the fall in interest costs covering the cost of much of that increased spending.

Instead, what we have are increasing interest rates, tax increases for everyone and real term government spending cuts.

That combination is disastrous for everyone in the UK: the last thing we need is a government created recession at this moment.

However, I have already discussed may of these issues before and I don’t want to be repetitious here, however important these issues are. Instead I want to raise another concern I now have, which is the impact of today’s statement on Labour’s plans if it gets into government by 2024, as seems likely.

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What we know from the announcement from Jeremy Hunt today is that many of the cuts he plans will not have much impact until late 2024 and thereafer. He is planning to be tough, but not just yet. This has, to me, horrible similarities with what happened at the end of the Thatcher / Major years.

In his last outing as Chancellor for the Tories in 1997 Ken Clarke set the UK on a path of spending cuts with the aim of delivering a budget surplus. It was, of course, not what the UK needed at the time.

The NHS was in a terrible state back then. Education was underfunded. There had been a serious shortage of investment in infrastructure in the many years of Tory rule. It all sounds remarkably like today. Quite remarkably, the deficit was also already under control.

But, Gordon Brown was so frightened that Labour might upset the financial markets he followed Ken Clarke’s plan for the economy for the first two years that Labour was in office. He kept spending very tight.

In fact, he was so mean he actually delivered that incredibly rare feat of running a budget surplus where taxes raised exceeded government spending. He did not even do that once: he did it for two years in a row. The result was that in those early years in office Labour did not spend enough when it could have done to correct the damage that the Tories had caused whilst in office.

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Ken Clarke has since admitted that he laughed himself silly about this. He did, of course, know that the Tories were going to lose the 1997 general election, just as Jeremy Hunt knows the Tories will lose the 2024 election (if this government lasts that long). What he admitted doing was setting Labour a trap, basically imposing austerity on them that they were stupid enough to deliver.

My fear is that Jeremy Hunt is doing the same thing now. He knows that he cannot deliver cuts in the next parliament because he will be out of office. But what he is doing is challenging Labour to deliver those cuts because he knows that Rachel Reeves now, like Gordon Brown back in 1997, is frightened of her own shadow when it comes to financial markets and thinks it must do all it can to appease them.

My fear then is that Labour will be stupid enough to follow Hunt’s plan. Rachel Reeves is already saying her experience from her time working for the Bank of England suggests that there will be no money available to solve the problems she will inherit.

Lisa Nandy is also appearing on television saying "there will be no money" when that is not true: the Bank of England can create as much as the government wants and the evidence is that quantitative easing does not deliver inflation.

In that case Hunt will be also laughing himself silly at the knots he will be tying Labour up in after his Autumn Statement.

Almost nothing he says is going to be delivered by him, but he and I both know that Labour will probably do everything he has said, and will deliver the devastation the Tories desire, whilst laying the path for Labour’s own electoral defeat by 2029.

My point is simple: unless and until Labour has an economic plan of its own (and right now it has nothing that looks even vaguely like one) we have to assume it will do exactly what the Tories would have done if and when they win office, exactly as happened in 1997. And that could be really disastrous for the UK as a whole, and is yet another reminder that Westminster politics and Westminster politicians do nothing for Scotland.