AS we edge towards Christmas and the holiday period, more than ever it brings into focus the need to escape out of touch Westminster politics.

Food poverty continues to be one of the biggest issues facing far too many people. With food and energy prices expected to rise again in January, this winter is only going to get worse for too many people. 

Food banks are seeing demand rise yet again. A couple of weeks ago when I was helping collect food for the local food bank, I was struck by the number of donations made by those who could barely afford to.

It is disgraceful that we need them, and it is sad that they have become a norm in our society, but the reality is that while we have such poor attempts to combat poverty from Westminster, food bank donations are a necessity.

READ MORE: Scotland's food bank plans 'set precedent for UK'

This time of the year is when our food banks come under the most pressure. If you are in a position where you can assist with a donation to the food bank in your local area, then please do so. It goes a long way and is the difference between someone going to bed hungry or not. 

Westminster still holds around 80% of Scotland’s welfare powers. We have enacted many sensible policies in the Scottish Parliament with the limited powers at our disposal, but Westminster still holds the powers that would alleviate people out of poverty.

Instead, it chooses to fuel culture wars and fight amongst themselves. This week the Centre for Social Justice warned the UK is in danger of slipping back into a Victorian-age gap between mainstream society and an impoverished underclass.

For context, Iain Duncan Smith (below) is a director of the Centre for Social Justice. He was secretary of state for work and pensions from 2010-16. Background and the Universal Credit mechanism was itself first outlined as a concept in a 2009 report by the think tank.

The National: Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

It is, however, not just welfare recipients who are having to use food banks in good old Great Britain in 2023. No, a distinct class of people now known as "the working poor" has been established – people who go to work on stagnating wages, pay their unrealistic bills to billionaire energy giants, and then struggle to afford the overpriced food on the shelves in our multi-million-pound profit supermarkets, resulting in trips to one of the UK’s hottest attractions, the local food bank.

I often remind myself that life circumstances can change for anyone in an instant. I have never given a food bank voucher to anyone who ever expected to have to ask for one. Our billionaire Prime Minister would have you believe this is absolutely normal and acceptable.

If you ever needed the proof, then food banks are the clear evidence that Westminster’s policies are harming people.

This Tory-made cost of greed crisis needs to end. Thankfully, we are deep in the dying embers of this mess of a Conservative government’s time at the top. What we should be afraid of though is what comes after that.

READ MORE: FACT CHECK: Ian Murray claims Scots will move to London due to tax rises

Where a Labour government will always be better than a Conservative Government, the truth is that Labour have no distinct vision for Scotland, no real ambitions for change, and zero commitments for Scotland.

Just this week at PMQs, Sir Keir had some back and forth banter with Rishi, sharing a chuckle and a laugh. Christmas jokes and puns were plentiful in what has to be the worst pantomime you will see this Christmas.

Meanwhile, Stephen Flynn got up and asked a real question, reminding the Chamber that people are being bombed in Gaza this Christmas as Westminster still fails to call for a ceasefire.

The only way we will see a government respond sensibly and compassionately to the urgent needs of the day in Scotland (domestic and international), is by our Scottish Parliament having the powers to do so. It is then and only then that we will end the need for food banks forever.