There is something rather irritating about Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross lecturing anyone about what is good for business and the economy.

After all, his party has truly stood out for making an absolute mess of matters business and economic for nearly 14 years now.

Mr Ross, however, does not seem to recognise himself as a person in a giant glass house throwing stones.

This perception gap is, of course, in keeping with the Tories’ seeming image of themselves as great guardians of the economy and business.

However, this self-image has become ever more ridiculous as the Conservatives have given the impression they are determined to hamper the economy and dampen living standards as much as they possibly can.

Brexit has been in the news again this week. There has understandably been a focus on post-Brexit controls on food imports from the European Union coming into force. Thankfully, these have been much delayed but they are unfortunately here now.

The UK’s hard departure from the EU is a clear and very simple example of major damage being caused quite wilfully to the economy, living standards, households and businesses. This hard Brexit is something that was delivered by Mr Ross’s party, and backed by the Moray MP.

There remains much debate over whether the Scottish Government should have matched relief on business rates of up to 75% for the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors provided by the UK Government to those operating in these industries south of the Border.

It is a matter that has been raised with great frequency, both in the run-up to and ever since the Scottish Government’s Budget in December.

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Mario Gizzi, co-owner of Di Maggio’s and Café Andaluz owner The DRG, has been among those to raise the issue.

He said last week: “In England, hospitality firms receive relief on rates, and we’d like to see the Scottish Government take the same approach to help stimulate the industry, encourage new businesses to the country, and reward them for running businesses well.”

Mr Ross, in the wake of the Scottish Budget, criticised First Minister Humza Yousaf for not replicating the discount on business rates applied south of the Border.

He claimed that Scottish businesses were being put at a “competitive disadvantage”, declaring “tight budgets are purely the SNP’s fault for wasting taxpayers’ money”.

Where to start with this?

Firstly, it is worth observing that the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors are absolutely entitled to campaign for business rates relief.

There are undoubtedly pressures on many businesses in these sectors.

And it is right there should be debate on whether or not there should be relief on rates.

Clearly, things are tight across the board and there are many competing priorities.

Whatever view people might form on the case for such relief versus for example arguments for public spending in certain areas, we should not forget that the Scottish Government provides very valuable support for the smallest businesses on rates.

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This is something that often seems to get lost amid the political furore.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison declared in her Budget speech on December 19 that she was “pleased to confirm that in this Budget we will maintain the small business bonus scheme - ensuring that 100,000 properties are taken out of rates altogether”.

That is a big number, and something that should not be forgotten.

Returning to Mr Ross’s intervention, it is surely bizarre that he thinks tight budgets are the SNP’s fault.

The UK’s woeful economic performance has put huge pressures on tax revenues, which would have been boosted greatly had the Conservatives managed to deliver some sort of decent and sustained growth during their time in office.

This has led to pressures on the public finances at a UK level, and Scotland has suffered directly as a result.

So the tight budgets are the Conservatives’ fault, are they not Mr Ross?

Another crucial point must be made here.

The Conservatives have presided over protracted falls in real incomes. They have been the enemies of living standards.

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It does not take a genius to work out that the sectors for which Mr Ross is advocating relief on business rates are dependent on discretionary spending.

In short, businesses in these sectors need large numbers of people to have significant amounts of money in their pockets if they are to thrive.

This is a much, much bigger matter than rates relief. That is not to say that business rates do not constitute a significant issue - rather it is to point out that the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors would not be in as much need of support had the Conservatives delivered on the economy.

We have had a lot of big talk from the Tories about how they are good on the economy.

However, the reality has been quite the opposite.

The Conservatives’ savage and ill-judged austerity programme has choked off growth and hammered the public finances and millions of households.

The grand Tory plans have come to nought. Remember former chancellor George Osborne’s vision, in his March 2011 Budget, of “a Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers”?

And it is important people realise the huge cost of the Tory hard Brexit.

Back in the spring of last year, Office for Budget Responsibility chairman Richard Hughes summed up Brexit’s effect as follows: “We think that in the long run it reduces our overall output by around 4% compared with had we remained in the EU.”

Mr Ross should really go away and reflect on who it is who has actually caused money to be tight - not just for the Scottish Government but for households and many businesses the length and breadth of the UK - before he throws any more stones.