THE phrase “dereliction of duty” has been much used since the EU Referendum in 2016.

But for me, out of all the parties, this phrase is particularly apt for the Labour Party and their leaders in the UK, for their abject failure to do their job properly and for a series of missed opportunities as the official opposition during a time of national crisis.

READ MORE: Shock poll result reveals surge in Scottish opposition to Brexit

Let’s put Brexit to one side, more on that later, but just this week I see social media is awash with Labour ministers and commentators arguing for further mitigation by the Scottish Government of abhorrent Tory social security measures in Scotland. It would seem that rather than attack the Tories at Westminster, where these cruel austerity measures actually originate, Labour would rather pick a fight with the SNP, who have already spent over £400 million of devolved funds mitigating inhumane Tory policies such as the bedroom tax.

Two important points must be remembered when it comes to Labour and austerity. Firstly, when the UK Government’s austerity measures were challenged in Parliament back in 2015, and I’m talking about the cuts that include the infamous two-child cap and rape clause, they got through because Labour abstained, because Labour failed to challenge the deliberate Tory welfare agenda that has pushed families across the country into poverty and many into destitution.

The SNP in Westminster voted against these draconian welfare measures because the SNP want to support families, working people, the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly, the long-term sick, and most importantly, they want to protect children.

READ MORE: Reaction to UN poverty report sums up Tory take on welfare

This isn’t just political talk and bluster. This is the SNP keeping its promises. At Holyrood, they’re currently in the process of building a new social security system based on dignity and respect, as well as introducing a raft of measures including the new Carers Allowance and the Scottish Independent Living Fund for disabled people to name but a few. This is why the UN in their recent report about extreme poverty in the UK (that I wrote about last week), highlighted Scotland’s efforts to protect people’s human rights and counteract poverty which they noted were in stark contrast to Westminster. They concluded that Scotland has done this despite reductions in allocated funds and despite our limited powers. And most importantly, the UN noted the nonsensical nature of devolved nations having to spend their limited resources mitigating the very worst of government policy from London.

Labour took a pick and mix approach to this report, just highlighting certain areas and glossing over the issue of devolved governance. All this noise and social media buzz and general toys being thrown from prams by Labour is just a sham, a deflection from the real issue, a transference of guilt. Because it is they who are guilty of letting down their supporters, their members, and the people of the UK through their failure to step in as the opposition and fight with all their might to oppose these brutal cuts.

Secondly, and back to Scotland, when Scottish Labour had the chance to support the devolution of full social security powers to Holyrood, they opposed it. Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard refused to sign a letter with the First Minister demanding for welfare powers to be devolved. He’s refused to unite with Nicola Sturgeon to challenge Universal Credit. Here is their opportunity to really make a difference to the people of Scotland, to ensure that our small nation is protected from the Westminster morality wasteland, but once again, a complete dereliction of duty on their part.

Labour would rather protect the Union at all costs than give Scotland an inch. Perhaps Leonard knows that the SNP have done a far better job of protecting people from Tory austerity than Labour could have ever done. Perhaps he knows deep down in his heart, that should Scotland ever get devo max, or indeed as I hope, independence, sooner rather than later, it is because the people of Scotland know we have different priorities up here, we can do things better with a party that has defended our human rights, nurtured our dignity and safeguarded our public services.

Labour are pushing for a General Election over Brexit, but, at this rate, with a leader in Westminster who has failed to oppose the Government on the biggest constitutional crisis of our times, Corbyn will never get the chance to change anything because polls show his party’s consistent failure to even creep past the Tories in terms of support. Even after everything that has happened, after the lies, deceit, betrayals, and divisions in the Tory party, after a substandard Brexit deal has been negotiated for a country that no longer wants to leave the EU, Labour can’t muster the courage or the foresight to take on May and her self-serving government.

So, let’s imagine a completely different world, where Labour aren’t hamstrung by their allegiance to the crumbling union, or tied in to Tory austerity through a lack of backbone and vision. Let’s imagine that Labour see the light and make the cross-over from Tory henchman to supporting social justice alongside the SNP. Let’s imagine that senior Labour figures in Scotland come out for independence after finally realising it’s the best way to protect Scotland and allow our nation to stay on its progressive path to a brighter future. Because in our polarised and fragile UK, you can’t have it both ways anymore.