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From Balloch to Faifley, and Bowling to Alexandria, it’s been a busy few weeks at my summer constituent advice surgeries.

Across West Dunbartonshire, it’s clear people are finding things tough just now. Local households and businesses are being hammered by the Bank of England’s interest rate rises, as high inflation and Brexit worsens the UK’s cost of living crisis.

A few weeks ago, I raised the case in parliament of a constituent named Chris from Duntocher. Leading a debate in the Commons on the scandal of mortgage prisoners – I spoke up for the thousands of people like Chris who face losing their homes due to extortionate interest rates.

Some 40,000 Scots like my constituent have been trapped paying thousands of pounds extra a year for their housing costs since the 2008 financial crisis. Shamefully, both the Tories and Labour have been complicit in this scandal though the years as the parties of government at Westminster.

Successive UK governments have turned a blind eye to the injustice experienced by mortgage prisoners – allowing banks and corporate vulture funds to profit at the expense of impoverished families.

And the current Prime Minister – a near billionaire – seems quite content for further pressure to be heaped on struggling families as the Bank of England continues raising interest rates to the highest levels in 15 years.

With less money in people’s pockets, this also has a damaging impact on local economies. Long-established businesses like Wilko and the Empire cinema chain are facing financial collapse, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

As ever it’s hard-pressed working households in communities like ours paying the price for Westminster’s repeated failures. The impact of Britain’s long-term decline is evident, so where is the hope that things can get better?

It certainly doesn’t come from Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party. What an embarrassment, claiming to be a party of change while simultaneously backing the Tories on everything from Brexit, to nuclear weapons, and the two-child cap.

The list of Starmer’s u-turns grows longer by the day. The latest is his ditching of key pledges on workers’ rights – abandoning their principles to pander to Tory voters in England.

It’s no wonder so many are asking, what’s the point in the Labour party?

Voters here aren’t daft. Clearly it makes no difference whether it’s Labour or the Tories in power at Westminster – because Scotland will never be a priority for Starmer or Sunak.

The SNP is the only party that will always stand up for what matters to the people of Scotland.

And only independence offers the real hope and real change our communities need.

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

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