ON the face of it, despite all the pre-statement hubbub and speculation, this was a fair Autumn Statement with Labour’s best line of attack being that the Tories had stolen their ideas.

Before Jeremy Hunt stood up, there was talk about how he would move the goalposts to deny paying pensioners and Universal Credit claimants their full rises in line with inflation, and yet they got their full dues; before he stood up, he was under pressure to cut inheritance tax – paid only by the wealthiest four per cent – and yet when he sat down, not only had the minimum wage risen but 27m working people were about to become £450-a-year better off.

The cut in National Insurance for everyone was bigger than anticipated, and emergency legislation is going to be rushed through so that it hits the pay packets in January. There must be an election round the corner.

Only a week or so ago, the Conservative Party and its right-wing Home Secretary were lambasting homeless people and asylum seekers, and the pre-statement speculation spoke of free prescriptions being removed from some benefit recipients. The talk was, with Suella Braverman sacked, that a bitterly divided party needed to look tough to keep the right wing on board.

Yet in the end, the only draconian measure was a promise to permanently remove benefits from those who failed to comply with job-seeking requirements, and it must be questionable whether anyone will ever be deprived of all their support and made destitute by the government.

Its almost as if the Conservatives, in their desperation to move the polls, are becoming schizophrenic: one minute, they are the change party, the next David Cameron is back; one minute, they are being nasty to shore up their blue wall vote, the next they are being nice to bolster the red wall; one minute, Mr Hunt says now is not the time for tax cuts, the next there’s a blooming big bribe being rushed through Parliament.

And if you peer beneath the face of it at the statistics, you will still find that taxes are rising to record highs, you will still find that economic growth is being downgraded, you will still find NHS waiting lists running to 7.8m treatments, you will still see energy prices are likely to rise five per cent in the new year, you will still see the Conservatives – after the chaos of Johnson and the trauma of Truss – 22 points behind in the polls.

The statement has given Tory candidates something positive to talk about on the doorsteps, yet if Jeremy Hunt had promised every taxpayer a large slice of the moon, they may not now be listening to him.