IT was impossible to repress an utterly exasperated laugh this week when Scottish Secretary David Mundell claimed David Cameron had rescued the UK economy. Unfortunately, from the perspective of the Conservative Party’s self-awareness or lack thereof, Mr Mundell was not joking.

Even more regrettably, many voters also seem to believe the Conservative Government has helped the economy, even some of those who have suffered from its woeful ineptitude on this front.

The reality is that the Conservatives’ failed austerity policies have choked off growth since 2010 – so for a long, long time now. The public finances have suffered, with savage welfare cuts and other grim austerity measures such as a hike in value-added tax having sucked the life out of the economy.

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And now the economy is facing what British Chambers of Commerce warned this week would be “turbulent” times because of June’s Brexit vote. And whose fault is this? Well, Mr Mundell, it was Mr Cameron who decided to hold the entirely unnecessary referendum on European Union membership. The former prime minister promised this poll ahead of the 2015 General Election, as the internal Conservative Party squabbles over Europe rumbled tiresomely on as they have done through the decades.

When it was announced this week that Mr Cameron was stepping down as an MP, Mr Mundell declared: “David Cameron has made a huge contribution to politics and government in this country. His achievements in rescuing our economy and in social reform will stand the test of time.”

It is worth noting that society in the UK looks much, much worse now than it did in 2010, with the welfare cuts among measures that have widened the gap between the rich and poor and brought misery for many. Among other measures, eye-watering university fees in England have taken away opportunity for large numbers of people who cannot afford to pay them, and will damage society and the economy very significantly in terms of diminishing the graduate talent pool.

In terms of the claim Mr Cameron rescued the economy, it is difficult to know where to start, purely because the statement is just so ridiculous.

The Tories’ rhetoric on their economic performance is like a broken record. They tell a story, over and over again as if that will make it true, that the former Labour government was almost somehow single-handedly responsible for the global financial crisis that brought on the deep 2008/09 recession.

Yes, the global financial crisis. What a truly fantastical premise. Yet it is one that Labour has, under three leaders now in the form of Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, and Jeremy Corbyn, proved unable to dispel.

You would have thought putting down this claim would have been as easy as observing the Emperor has no clothes. Yet the Conservatives continue to get away with it, and with dressing up their dismal economic performance with spin, with the UK electorate seemingly buying into the Tory fantasy at the 2015 General Election.

The Conservatives failed completely, in their first five-year term, to enable anything even loosely resembling a convincing or balanced economic recovery. This is a situation that has continued into their second term.

Huge cuts in corporation tax were meant to fuel a business investment boom and, in former chancellor George Osborne’s own words, create “a Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers”. But business investment has proved consistently disappointing and the makers have not been marching.

In stark contrast to Labour and the global financial crisis, much of the Conservative Government’s poor economic record stems from its own ill-judged policies. But the Tories have been quick to point the finger at global influences whenever the opportunity has arisen, and many in the electorate appear to have lapped up such “dog ate my homework” excuses.

Things have, with the Brexit vote, obviously taken a huge lurch for the worse on the economic front.

The Brexiters seem to be adopting a British Bulldog-style approach to things, with some even believing anyone who considers Blighty is not unquestionably Mighty is unpatriotic. What a ridiculous and lamentable state of affairs.

And some people, quite remarkably, believe the economic turmoil from the Brexit vote has already passed.

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If you want to see where the economy is actually headed, you need only look at the signal yesterday from the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee that it is minded to cut interest rates even further in November.

The MPC reduced base rates by a quarter-point to a fresh record low of 0.25 per cent in August. Economists expect a cut to 0.1 per cent in November. This unprecedented action underlines the deeper trouble in which the economy finds itself following the UK electorate’s vote to leave the EU. And British Chambers this week slashed its UK growth forecasts.

Even putting to one side the global nature of the financial crisis, and looking at the narrow UK context, it is absolute nonsense to suggest the Conservatives would have regulated their beloved City more than Labour. Their mantra was always deregulation.

When it comes to anyone rescuing anything, those who deserve the biggest pat on the back would be Mr Brown and former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling. When the general behaviour of the global financial sector left the UK banking sector on the brink, in the autumn of 2008, the pair put in place an emergency package of measures that pulled the UK back from the brink. There was not much time to act, and no particularly palatable solution, but they did what they had to do.

As for Mr Cameron, when it comes to the economy, he has rescued nothing. Rather, he has cost us much. And it is high time more people realised that.