THE passing of the Queen was of course a matter of national and historic significance given her position and the length of her reign, and for many it was a very sombre occasion and deserving of the political and media attention it garnered.

However, while parliaments and sporting occasions were put on hold the cost-of-living crisis continues to engulf society. No electricity bills were recalled, no gas meters paused, and no hungry bellies filled by wall-to-wall coverage of national grief.

Before the news broke, we were in Parliament hearing about the largest-ever intervention by a UK Government to guarantee private profit with public money. The furlough scheme will look like chump change in comparison to the vast sums of money required to “freeze” energy prices at a mere 200% of what they were just a year ago.

As welcome as the cap will be in comparison to the bills that were on the way, we are all going to be picking up the tab for this down the line. Instead of targeting those making extortionate profits, the cost will be passed to the people, many of whom will still be utterly unable to cope even with the new freeze.

As eye-watering as household bills had been forecast to be, they paled in comparison to those which businesses were facing – increases of well over 500% were not uncommon among those I have spoken to.

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The announcement that followed was that there would be an intervention for businesses, similar to the two-year freeze from households, but that it would only be for six months.

I am a board member of The Scottish Pantry Network, established to support and guide organisations who are thinking about setting up a local Pantry to divert food away from landfill and promote a sustainable, dignified approach to food insecurity that will aid physical as well as mental health.

I recently attended our planning session where the increase in utility bills was a major topic of conversation.

A six-month freeze is welcome, but it does not allow for any forward planning, especially for organisations that are not profit making but are at the forefront of catching those that the welfare state has failed.

Those small businesses and charities are both huge employers and part of the fabric of our communities but the uncertainty around their bills makes forward planning impossible and the worry is that many will fold.

I asked the UK Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, if he felt it was fair that large supermarkets making massive profits will benefit from the Energy Relief Scheme while SMEs and charities who signed contracts prior to April will not. Unsurprisingly, there was little in the way of re-assurance from him.

I also submitted a petition this week to extend the scheme to two years to protect jobs and ensure our small business survive this difficult period.

Another item that will have fallen off the radar was the apparent binning of the Bill of Rights, or more accurately the removal of rights. This was scheduled for a second hearing last week but was pulled with no explanation as of yet.

What sort of illiterate drivel it must have been to be shelved by the most right-wing Cabinet of modern times. After checking who the Justice Minister was this week (it’s Brandon Lewis) I wrote to him asking for assurances that this attack on our civil liberties was gone for good and that there would be no further attempt to remove us from the European Court of Human Rights.

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While I would love to believe that the new Prime Minister has had a change of heart and is no longer interested in stripping us of our right to protest, wants to protect union rights and has turned away from criminalising minorities such as Gypsies and Travellers, I am unconvinced.

Appointing Suella Braverman as Home Secretary is utterly bone-chilling. Never did I think we would be presented with a worse option than Priti Patel but here we are.

The third reading of the Public Order Bill was scheduled before everything was postponed but I think we can be safe in the assumption that the same authoritarian streak will run through this government as the ones that went before.

Times of national crisis can be an opportunity for governments to show real leadership, to address the structural problems that brought us to this point and shape a better society to come out the other end.

Or they can be a chance to grab power and remove rights under the guise of national security.

There is nothing about this, or any, Tory government that suggests the disproportionate wealth and power accumulated by just a few is in any danger of being lessened. The gulf between the haves and have-nots is widening faster than ever and the dismantling of social protections is trapping people in poverty with fewer and fewer avenues to escape.

I am deeply concerned that while people are battling just to survive we will see hard-won rights chipped away by a party we haven’t voted into power in Scotland in more than half-a-century.

We can’t let the immediacy of the disaster we face right now distract us from the dystopia that is being formulated for our children.

It is a new era with the passing of the Queen, let’s make this an era without a Great Britain.