AS a Member of the Scottish Parliament and a Minister in the Scottish Government, I prefer in these columns to focus on what the SNP government at Holyrood has been doing.

However, I cannot allow Labour to get away with their actions, or rather inaction, last week at Westminster.

You don’t have to be a political anorak to realise who the Labour Party is meant to stand up for – the clue is in the name.

By choosing to abstain on the Tory Welfare Bill, Labour have let down those they claim to represent by name – the working people, as well as the disabled, families and young people.

In the past Labour would have been expected to stand up for the lowest paid workers, but last week they betrayed them entirely by choosing to lie down, abstain on the vote and let the Tories take the axe to tax credits.

Recently SNP MPs like Mhairi Black have reached out to the Labour Party, asking them to work with the SNP at Westminster – to form a powerful opposition alliance – but that will only be possible if Labour actually turn up to vote on the most important issues.

This utter desertion of their traditional base has prompted well-known Labour supporters like Owen Jones to ask – “What is the point of Labour?”

I am proud to be a member of a party whose MPs have turned out to vote against these draconian cuts at every opportunity, standing by those who are in need of support and struggling to make ends meet.

Yes, there will be some people who abuse the system, but why punish so many people who are in need for the actions of a tiny minority?

The story told by the Tories, Labour and too much of the media is that everyone and your granny is fiddling the benefits system and it’s simply not true – it’s a smokescreen which will allow the UK government to dismantle the Welfare State, brick by brick.

Last Wednesday the Welfare Bill passed by 184 votes – exactly the number of Labour MPs who abstained – if they’d chosen to stand shoulder to shoulder with the SNP and other progressive parties we could have made the Tories think again about their plans.

I note that Tony Blair – the man that got me into politics - made an intervention in the debate about the Labour leadership elections last week.

I say he got me into politics because it was in opposing his disastrous decision to take us into Iraq that I came to believe that independence was the best future for our country.

Unacceptably and infuriatingly we are still awaiting the publication of the Chilcott Enquiry’s report on the decision to invade Iraq – allegedly because it is being held up by Blair’s reluctance to release notes exchanged between him and George Bush.

While putting his two pence in last week Tony Blair chose to insult a whole movement, by describing the SNP as “cavemen.”

However, given his regressive, warmongering record in government I would say that any opposition or insult from him should be worn as a badge of honour.