A ROMANIAN immigrant family of 17 in London is claiming £55,000-a-year in benefits.

They are cited as an example to vilify everyone on welfare, masking the true disgrace of poverty in the UK.

Poverty in Africa gets more publicity here than any UK deprivation, which only serves to expose Western hypocrisy.

Take the current unchecked spread of the killer Ebola virus in Africa.

If it ever posed the same threat here, drugs giants would be falling over themselves to produce a suitably expensive vaccine.

They spend billions pandering to the fears of rich folk in rich countries, producing age-defying face serums that promise to turn prunes into grapes, and nail polish that changes colour when exposed to date rape drugs.

But there is no profit in helping poor people in poor countries, because while there's a need there's not a market, and certainly not for nail varnish.

Not only the Third World poor are ignored. UK minorities are scorned, until they are deemed useful to someone's agenda.

Did UK telly companies give a toss about Scotland's deprived housing schemes before some smart exec dreamed up a way of exploiting them.

Reality TV encourages social conflict in the name of entertainment; dysfunctional fools and families are overnight turned into ludicrous, laughable celebrities. It's voyeurism, not concern.

Take those oh so caring Conservatives, and their impotent response to Israel's destruction of Gaza.

The Tories' election fixer, Aussie Lynton Crosby, reportedly told David Cameron he's nothing to gain getting tough with the Israelis, because the Muslim vote will not be a decisive factor in many marginal seats in the 2015 general election.

How's that for morals, what happened to principles? And they're governing us, and we didn't even vote for them?

Crosby's analysis is very likely being applied to Scotland's poor.

Traditionally the poverty-stricken don't come out on polling day, even those who know a vote is taking place, so the politicians have plenty of people they can ignore.

Our share of the largest-ever study of UK poverty makes shameful reading.

l Almost one million Scots don't have adequate housing.

l 800,000 can't afford basic social activities.

l More than 250,000 children and adults aren't properly fed.

According to that UK Poverty and Social Exclusion study, almost half of all working-age adults in poverty are in work, exploding the Thatcherite myth of skivers v strivers.

The Tories' poverty strategy is non-existent, but don't forget it was Labour who got us into this economic mess.

Tony Blair vowed in 1999 to end child poverty by 2020. David Cameron had to honour that pledge but his own Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has warned his target will "be missed by a considerable margin" and that "Britain remains a deeply divided country".

They don't say? Is that why the Trussell Trust reports a 400% increase in Scottish food bank use between April 2013 and March 2014? Food banks, and they're spending billions on nuclear weapons.

So what's all this talk about Scotland being a wealthy wee nation? Is that so much baloney.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development last week ranked Scotland as its 14th most wealthy country, ahead of France, Japan and the UK as a whole.

So why, given such economic wealth, has poverty in Scotland reached appalling levels. Why has the gap between rich and poor grown ever wider.

Can it have something to do with successive Labour and Tory governments, the merry-go-round that Scotland can't get off.

In a supposedly energy-rich wee country, how come 600,000 Scottish homes needed help to tackle fuel poverty in the last six years.

I'll tell you why. We've been battered by rising utility bills and living costs, stagnant wages, job insecurity and welfare cuts.

The Scottish government can rob Peter to help Paul divert cash to mitigate the worst effects of Tory taxes but as long as Westminster controls Scotland's purse strings they're fighting a losing battle.

Ice Bucket Challenges won't rescue Scotland's poor.

We need reform in health, benefits, taxes, work and pay, housing, childcare and schools.

And that in turn will make us an even more prosperous country.

But be warned, whichever way we vote on September 18, poverty will be with us for years.

NOBEL Prize-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz dismisses Bitter Together propaganda and says the UK would agree a formal currency union with an independent Scotland.

The Adam Smith Institute says using the pound without a formal currency union or the use of the Bank of England would be "a significant improvement on Scotland's current arrangements."

Professor Sir Donald MacKay, one of the oil industry's most respected experts, says UK Government estimates of oil under the North Sea miss a "mountain of black gold."

Who do you believe, profs or politicians.