The National:

‘TIS the season to be jolly sure that the irony bypass suffered by the Conservative Party is in no danger of reversal.

How else to explain the selfies taken by Tory MPs as they trot along to their local food banks. A social service which exploded thanks to Tory policies which created a massive increase in need allied to food and fuel poverty.

It is nothing resembling an accident that the growth in food banks has risen exponentially since 2010, the year the Conservatives formed their first administration buttressed by the LibDems. Or that a combination of wholly inadequate Universal Credit payments and unconscionable delays in delivering it has propelled families into a level of destitution unheard of in the modern UK.

READ MORE: Natalie Elphicke under fire for 'sickening' Christmas Day message

Please don’t take my word for it. More than 40% of the many thousands of food banks now littering these prosperous nations are run by the Trussell Trust, who keep meticulous records and report twice yearly.

The latest statistics tell us that food bank use is 11% up on 2019 and a staggering 74% since 2016. As their explanatory notes bleakly inform us: “Destitution – and the resulting inability to afford essentials – is the main reason for people using a food bank.”

Destitution! It’s a tale of Dickensian levels of misery, but one where some Tory MPs are unable to join the obvious dots. Unable to make the connection between what Trussell reports as a level of benefit “insufficient to meet basic living costs” allied to the five week wait for universal credit to kick in being the main drivers of food bank use.

The most egregious example has been the Dover MP Natalie Elphicke who posted a happy snap of herself en route to her local food bank with a little parcel of guilt free comestibles. “I was so impressed with the vital work of the Dover Food Bank,” she trilled on twitter.

READ MORE: Here are the key steps in making food banks obsolete in Scotland

Sadly none of the recipients are in a position to tell her where to stuff her contribution. Let me be their guest. This is a woman who makes a tidy £36k a year on top of her MP’s salary chairing a quango. Yet felt able to tell Marcus Rashford to concentrate on the day job and leave off politics, when the England striker missed a penalty.

Rashford it was, who forced the Government to continue school meals during holidays on the not unreasonable basis that children do not stop getting hungry in the summer.

READ MORE: Scottish food bank boss on his Christmas card from 'viceroy' Alister Jack

Rashford has more common humanity in his pinkie than the entire UK Government’s Cabinet. (A good moment to remind ourselves of the picture of Dominic Raab taking a pile of sweeties to hospital workers clad in his Santa jersey.) Much easier to wear than full PPE as any NHS staffer could advise him.

It takes a monumental amount of brass in the neck region to try to pose as a caring, sharing community worker when you have spent the last decade driving down wages and job security, and actively ensuring that families who would never have dreamt of needing a food bank referral in their worst nightmares now require to do just that. Or watch their kids go hungry.

Much that the Tory government has done has caused many of us to feel disgust at their lack of basic empathy and compassion. Few things have made most of us more enraged than the fashion for food bank selfies!