BANKSY nailed it. “Workers of the World … Abstain.” In characteristically pithy style, he captured exactly what Labour did on Monday and, just as importantly, who they have abandoned.

Monday was the debate and vote on the Tory Welfare Reform and Work Bill at Westminster. A Bill that comes on the back of a Tory Budget that by the Treasury’s own analysis will see the income of those earning least fall by 3.3 per cent. That’s 350,000 more children in the UK growing up in poverty, and 100,000 in Scotland. That’s one-and-a-quarter million families in Scotland whose meagre incomes will be cut even more.

Now here’s the thing about that Treasury analysis. It is called an impact analysis and it is information the Government gets when it is weighing up its Budget options. So that means that when George Osborne and David Cameron sat down with their Cabinet to agree the Budget, they knew exactly what the impact would be. And they decided that the life chances of those children, the worry, debt and misery of those families, was a price worth paying. They made their political choice and they made it clear whose side they are on.

But what about Labour? What political choice did they make? When that Welfare Bill was in front of them, did they choose to stand beside those who are the poorest and most vulnerable? Did they choose to hear the warning from the charities or the churches, or even their own constituents? Did they remember Mhairi Black’s words when she offered a genuine hand across the green benches to join together and be a real opposition to the Tories? Did they make the political, the morally just choice to oppose a £12 billion package of cuts to welfare support?

No. Labour at Westminster abstained. With the exception of 48, the rest – all 232 of them – sat on their hands. They had a very real opportunity to join with all the opposition parties to oppose the Tories’ ideological assault on people across these islands. To oppose the notion that it is OK to see more families rely on food banks; to see more people with disabilities denied the support they need to live decent, independent lives.

And, wearily, it gets worse. Andy Burnham, a candidate for leadership of the Labour Party, acknowledged they had made a mess of their position but that he had abstained because he was “not prepared to split the party”. I doubt he is alone in mounting that defence.

Ian Murray, Labour’s one remaining Scottish MP, claimed it’s not possible to “defeat a Government with an absolute majority on a major piece of their legislative programme”. You’ve missed the point, Ian. You didn’t even try.

So there we have it. Labour care more about the fate of their party and the procedural niceties of Westminster than they do about social justice or fairness.

That was Monday. On Tuesday, Labour didn’t even bother to turn up to vote on the Finance Bill. Their reason? Well, that it’s all a bit complicated with bits of things in one Tory Bill and bits in another. How extraordinary that between all those Labour MPs, not one of them has the wit to work out how to do a complicated thing.

I know that to many of us so much of this will no longer come as a surprise. We have seen Labour turn their back on us, our families and our neighbours, time after time. We have seen them in thrall to their own internal power struggles.

We have heard so often that Labour want to listen only to realise that they will not hear. For many that has been a slow and painful process as the realisation dawns that the party they grew up believing was there to represent them, to support those most vulnerable, to champion social change, is now no longer any such thing.

BUT for others that realisation has still to come, the realisation that the party you support no longer embodies your values, no longer speaks out against injustice, no longer opposes the Tory ideology guaranteed to increase poverty and want. When you see that that party can no longer even vote to prevent further harm to you, then you realise you owe that party no loyalty.

Then you remember it is not political parties that have power. It’s us. And when we vote for them, we lend them our power. And when they no longer use our power with principle, compassion and care – when they no longer even use it at all – then we will take it back. And take it elsewhere.