WEDNESDAY'S Westminster Budget was important for whoever becomes the next leader of the SNP and first minister of Scotland.

I am not speculating on who that might be because that is inconsequential to my argument. 

The argument that the Budget suggests are fivefold. The first is that the Tories are going for recession. The second is that they are protecting the wealthy. And third, they are protecting big business. Fourth, it suggests that they think everyone else will put up with this. And fifth, this is not the way for Scotland to go.

We know that the Tories are going for recession. They are continuing with their policy of refusing inflation-matching pay rises.

In real terms people across the UK are around 3% worse off this year than last, and for public sector workers it is somewhat worse than that. And the simple rule is that unless you pay inflation-matching pay rises of course you get a recession.

There is not enough spending going on without them to prevent that recession happening. It does not take rocket science to work that out. 

The National:

We also know that the Tories are going for recession because they are keeping increases in government spending down to 1% from 2024.

Admittedly, inflation will be much lower then, but what this means is that there will be no money to solve any of crises in the public services, and so they will continue, crushing the economy as a result.

And we know that the growth that they are are forecasting in Gross Domestic Product, which is a measure of the country’s national income, will be largely in big company profits and investment income. The Office for Budget Responsibility said so in its report on Wednesday. The growth in wages is smaller. In other words, rewards are going to be split unfairly. 

So, second, we can be sure that this is a Budget for the wealthy, and the extraordinary increases in tax relief for their benefit prove that. They can now pay £60,000 a year into their pension and have a pension pot of unlimited size on which tax relief can be given.

The National:

We already spend £60 billion a year subsidising pensions (which is way more than the defence budget), over half of which goes to the wealthiest 10% of people in the UK, providing them with benefits bigger than most people ever get from Universal Credit.

Now that absurd situation is going to get worse. It is estimated that yesterday’s pension reliefs will cost £1 billion. That could instead have given junior doctors a decent wage, but the healthy wealthy got it instead.

Third, big business won by getting big new tax reliefs on the investments it makes in new equipment. The trouble is, small business won nothing from this. In fact, its tax rate has gone up. And it is small and medium sized business that dominate the Scottish economy, in particular.

The bias to the wealthy - and it is they who own the shares in big businesses - continued as a result. As did the prospect of recession.

And somehow the government thinks that people will put up with this. They think their words will save them. 

Those words were seen in their proud claims that the UK may not go into recession this year, even though the size of its economy will fall. 

And these words were seen again when it claimed inflation will be 2.9% later this year, which was always an arithmetical certainty and which still means that prices are going up and people without inflation matching pay rises will be worse off. 

The reality will not match the words in these cases, and people will rumble that.

So what are the lessons for Scotland’s new first minister? There are at least three.

The first is, have an economic policy that you are willing to talk about because you really understand it.

Second, talk about how that economic policy will really help ordinary people and not just the wealthy.

The National:

Third, don’t obfuscate when it comes to the nation’s finances: tell it as it is. Which right now will mean blaming everything on Westminster, time after time after time. Nothing less than this will do.

People have to know why independence will be better for them, and the message must be relentless. And as a result the barrage on Westminster politics, which from both the Tories and Labour looks like being about continuing austerity from now until kingdom come, is essential. 

But there is a sting in the tail of that. The new first minister cannot believe in austerity if they are going to succeed at doing this, so they’d better get their heads around how an independent Scotland with its own currency and the power to spend on the services that will drive Scottish prosperity can work, as it does in many countries of similar size to Scotland. 

Will all the candidates do that? That is where I have my doubts. As ever, I have to live in hope.