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In a wealthy country like Scotland, no child should have to grow up in poverty. But that’s the grim reality facing too many families in West Dunbartonshire as households pay a heavy price for Westminster’s failures.

At my advice surgeries, and out on the doorsteps, I hear heart-breaking stories from constituents being forced into hardship by soaring food prices. The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium put food inflation at more than 15% – pricing people out of basic staples like bread, butter and cheese.

Homeowners and renters are also being hammered by the Bank of England’s interest rate rises, which are at their highest level for 15 years.

Local food banks in West Dunbartonshire have been a lifeline for many, but the increasing demand being placed on these volunteer-led services isn’t sustainable.

Worryingly, there’s likely worse to come, as the UK’s dire economic forecasts continue. Analysis by OECD shows Britain faces one of the highest rates of inflation in Europe heading into 2024.

It’s inexplicable that the UK government sits on its hands as hard-pressed households struggle to put food on the table.

Meanwhile, in independent Ireland – which has a similar population to Scotland – they’re taking definitive action to keep food inflation under control. Ireland’s economy is thriving as part of the European Union – with plans to set up an Irish sovereign wealth fund modelled on the success of other countries like Norway (which enjoys a trillion-dollar oil wealth fund).

Scots can only look on with envy, having had our vast energy wealth squandered by successive UK governments – and now forced to endure the consequences of a damaging Brexit we didn’t vote for.

Research shows that Brexit alone has added upwards of £200 to the average food bill. Families here have been left to pay the price for a cost-of-living crisis made worse by the UK’s exit from the EU.

It’s no wonder then that polling shows only 6% of voters in Scotland believe Brexit has been a success.

Yet the Labour party under Keir Starmer proudly declares that it backs Brexit. So desperate are Labour to appeal to Tory voters in England, they care little about being out of touch with voters in Scotland.

With Scottish democracy under attack, it’s no surprise Labour sits silently complicit as the Tories undermine the sovereignty of our parliament.

Blue Tories or red Tories – it makes no difference. As always, it’s left to the SNP to stand up for Scottish interests.

Only a vote for the SNP will deliver the real change Scotland needs with independence.

If Ireland and Norway can thrive as sovereign nations, then why not Scotland?

This article was written for publication in the Clydebank Post and Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter.

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