IT’S been a dreadful week for the Tories... and now a brief pause so everyone can say "Awww".

Now that you've picked yourselves up off the floor from laughing hysterically, we can continue.

First there was the news that the British economy is in recession, trashing a key component of Rishi Sunak's five pledges, which were unveiled to great fanfare last year as the criteria upon which Sunak insisted that the electorate were to judge him.

Leaving aside the sheer arrogance of a politician who insists that we should judge him on five self-serving criteria which he himself has selected and not on the incompetence, chaos, and corruption for which his government has become notorious, Sunak has failed on the five pledges he picked for himself.

Sunak pledged to cut inflation, stop the small boats bringing migrants across the English Channel, cut NHS waiting lists, and grow the economy.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour welcome banking boss to Parliament ... to discuss cost of living

The pledge to cut inflation was always hollow, given that the overwhelming economic consensus was that inflation was bound to fall from the 10.1% it was sitting at in January last year when Sunak unveiled his five pledges (with his usual unbearable smugness). He'd have been as well pledging that he'd make the sun rise every morning for all that he had to do with the fall in inflation.

In January this year inflation remained stubbornly high at 4%, double the Bank of England's target of 2%, and the same as in December.

However, energy, food, alcohol and tobacco inflation remains higher still, at 5.1%.

Despite his pledge to cut NHS waiting lists in England, they remain at a record high with 7.8 million people in England currently waiting for an NHS appointment. NHS elective waiting lists in England have continued to rise, with numbers in October 2023 almost 500,000 higher than in January 2023.

The National: Rishi Sunak

Now another of his five pledges is in tatters: the promise to grow the economy. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published figures on Thursday showing that UK gross domestic product (GDP) had fallen by 0.3 percent in the three months to December with all major sectors of the economy suffering a downturn.

These figures follow a drop of 0.1 percent in GDP over the third quarter of last year, meaning the British economy has suffered a second consecutive three-month period of falling output – the definition of a recession.

Despite the poor figures, Sunak insisted that the economy had "turned a corner" and this would be true, it has turned a corner, collided with a lamp post, and is now lying face down in the gutter.

Another of his pledges was to get government debt down.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour register zero viewers as Anas Sarwar gives speech

But debt has risen to 88.3% of GDP in November 2023 from 85.1% in December 2022. While debt is forecast to fall from 93.2% in 2027/28 to 92.8% the following year, this is in serious doubt as it depends upon unrealistic cuts to already over stretched public services.

Sunak has also failed to 'Stop the Boats'. His Rwanda plan has stalled and may be unworkable despite the vast sums of public money thrown at it.

The number of people crossing the Channel has fallen, but they are still attempting the crossing and numbers may rise again as we get into spring and summer and weather conditions improve.

Sunak's reality denying announcements merely confirm the impression of a Prime Minister who is hopelessly out of touch. The only one of his five pledges which he can claim to have fulfilled is the pledge to cut inflation, and that was not his doing.

Tories suffer punishing defeat in two by-elections

To add to Sunak's woes, on Thursday the Conservatives lost two by-elections in nominally safe Tory seats, with Labour overturning majorities of 11,000 and 18,000.

The huge swings recorded in by-elections where voter turnout is typically low are rarely repeated at subsequent General Elections, but the losses will put more pressure on Sunak and add to the impression of a government which is dying before our eyes.

To all this was added a major opinion poll this week which showed that Labour is on course for a historic landslide with the Tories reduced to a rump of 80 seats and facing wipe out in Scotland. Even arch Tory broadcaster Andrew Neil thinks that Labour are unstoppable and the Tories have lost all credibility.

The National: Labour candidate Damien Egan (second right) with fellow candidates as he is declared winner in the Kingswood by-electionLabour candidate Damien Egan (second right) with fellow candidates as he is declared winner in the Kingswood by-election (Image: Ben Birchall)

Of course, none of this stopped that national treasure Murdo Fraser - that's treasure in the sense of something unusual that's found under a rock - from tweeting on Wednesday.

“Roses are Red so are the Coats, the Nats have got angry, But they're fast losing votes #HappyValentinesDay”, Murdo was so impressed with his own cleverness that he tweeted this on the very same day that poll was published showing that the SNP will remain the largest party by far in Scotland while the Tories are facing a complete wipe out.

Self-awareness was never Murdo's strong suit and his frequent social media gaffes are why he's got his very own hashtag #TheresBeenAMurdo. You keep being you Murdo, we could all do with the laughs.

Scottish Labour follow Keir Starmer’s lead in courting big business

Despite its by election wins and its leading position in UK polling, Labour too has its problems.

This week Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, Labour's Holyrood business spokesperson, made his own bid for Murdo status by inviting a banking chief to Holyrood to share his "unique perspective" on the cost of living crisis.

That's like inviting Kanye West to share his thoughts on the importance of modesty.

You certainly have a "unique perspective" on the cost of living crisis when you're one of the top 1% earners and don't need to worry about the heating bill for the swimming pool in your country pad.

Even Johnson's Labour colleagues were unimpressed with one source telling The National: "It must be some kind of sick joke to invite the bank that helped crash our economy, allowing the Tories to impose austerity, to advise us on how to cope with the cost of living crisis."

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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