IN life, there are always consequences. For Ministers delivering contentious, dramatic statements, the alternatives are generally fairly straightforward. Either they will make history – or they are history.

It is likely that Jeremy Hunt will enter the annals with his autumn statement. Seldom has so much bad news been compressed into such a neat, compact vessel. Furthermore, the historic sprite was hovering over the despatch box as he delivered his lugubrious tale. In sundry ways.

Firstly and most obviously, the numbers. This package returns taxation to levels last seen during the Second World War when the UK was on the brink of annihilation from a gruesome, persistent threat.

It also portends the sharpest decline in living standards since such records began. I must confess it scarcely eased my angst to learn that I was born just before the instigation of this particular statistical analysis.

But history was referenced in other ways, including recent, indeed very recent, events.

Jeremy Hunt finally buried the now notorious mini-budget of his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng – who had wanted to cut taxation but found that the markets reacted with panic to a package which was neither costed nor credible.

Contemplate the politics here. Mr Hunt has utterly trashed the reputation of a senior member of his own political party. Plus that of the previous Prime Minister, Liz Truss.

Mr Hunt said he wanted “low taxes and sound money”. Perhaps that was designed to convince a few grumbling sceptics on his own side that he remains a Tory, despite the tax hikes. But he added that sound money had to come first. Otherwise, the canker of inflation would spread.

As a primary objective, Mr Hunt was seeking to reassure the markets that the grown-ups were back in charge. But, in doing so, he was following Rishi Sunak in completely and utterly disavowing the preceding Tory administration.

Consider. The Tories drove Boris Johnson and then Liz Truss from office. With sundry sharp words about credibility and competence

So just what might be the Tory slogan for the next election? Our first lot were rotten. The second lot were even worse. We’re putting it right. Vote Tory?

And yet another historical note. The Chancellor spoke of the “pound in people’s pockets” being devoured by inflation. Recognise the echo? Harold Wilson, of course, insisting that his 1967 devaluation of the pound had not affected the citizenry. He spoke with passion and seeming sincerity. Labour duly lost the next General Election.

But, then, perhaps Mr Hunt has already made that calculation, in his soul. Perhaps that is why his spending cuts are heavily loaded towards the period after 2025. After, in short, the coming UK electoral test.

Alternatively, the medicine may work, at least in part. Inflation may begin to subside, energy prices may peak and retrench. Right now, though, the Tory pitch scarcely seems like a sure-fire vote-winner.

Consequences, always consequences. For example, the Office for Budget Responsibility reports that Brexit has had a “significant adverse impact” on UK trade. To which many economic analysts reply with a somewhat crude three-word response, ending in “Sherlock”. Or, alternatively, “we told you so”.

But that perceived consequence still does not feature substantially or frequently in the UK political discourse. Why? Because both the Tories and Labour have accepted departure from the European Single Market – and want to avoid the topic.

Then there is energy. Politically, few will contest the windfall taxes on energy companies. At least not volubly or persistently.

But what if those taxes mean lower investment in the drive towards renewables? The Chancellor insists he can head that off by rewarding investment through allowances.

Consequences, always consequences. Severe consequences for the poorest of our citizens. Yes, the Chancellor has inflation-proofed pensions and benefits. He also announced extra targeted help with energy bills. And he hiked up the minimum wage.

But be in no doubt. The state of our sluggish economy, sometimes turgid, sometimes frankly fetid, will impact most severely on those who already have least.

Consequences. And, for John Swinney, consequentials. It is Mr Swinney who now has to decide what to do with Scottish income tax and spending levels. That is because the rates and bands affecting earned income in Scotland are determined by Holyrood, not Westminster.

Mr Swinney faces a series of fundamental dilemmas, beyond the basic arithmetic. Firstly, the political challenge. Labour is already saying that he should load additional taxation upon higher earners. Others question that. They argue it might raise relatively little revenue, while, potentially, lessening innovation and growth in the economy. I believe Mr Swinney will seek a balance.

The Scottish Tories? Mr Swinney would suggest a period of silence might be welcome after they previously suggested he should pursue the Kwarteng model. Rather, they will now follow the Hunt.

The Chancellor notes that Scotland will receive £1.5bn extra in the next two years because he has chosen to increase spending on health and education in England – two devolved programmes which thus fall under the Barnett Formula.

But, says Mr Swinney, that fails to match £1.7bn already stripped from the Scottish budget by inflation, with more depredations to come. Plus, it is for later years. Not now. It cannot, for example, be put on the table in pay talks, in an effort to avert strikes.

In which regard, one option I hear canvassed is that public sector employers may seek a quid pro quo. Concessions in return for (limited) cash. Perhaps, for example, shelving any move to reduce hours.

Mr Swinney has discretion over taxation. But he is not entirely free. The fiscal framework settled with the Treasury means that he cannot seek to advantage Scotland, by comparison with England, without financial effects.

Consequences. For example, the decision by the Treasury to add to the burden of taxation in England translates via the framework into a Block Grant Adjustment for Scotland.

In short, less cash. It has been suggested to me that, otherwise, the much-quoted figure of £1.5bn might have been somewhat closer to £1.9bn.

Similarly, John Swinney’s budget takes an inevitable hit if he chooses not to match those Treasury increases in taxation. Expect him, with notable Scottish variations, to follow suit. Consequences.