ONCE Nicolae Ceausescu, the queen’s Carpathian bestie, was safely out of the way Romania took its turn to be pitied by the west. The plight of children left abandoned in orphanages sparked convoys bearing medicine, clothes and shoes to these forsaken outcasts. Of course, the UK Government doesn’t now consider Romanians to be the right sort of immigrants but back then they were at a safe enough distance to be recipients of the nation’s second-hand wardrobe.

After the downfall of Ceausescu, once Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Romania was left in a wretched old state. Failed oil adventures, dogged by corruption fuelled a massive rise in foreign debt which Ceausescu tried to pay by siphoning off the produce of Romania’s rural and urban economy. The country was on its knees and good people around the world duly responded.

A generation later Scotland feels that it too must ask for second-hand clothes to keep its poorest children alive. Last month Glasgow City Council launched an appeal to keep pupils warm in a winter where Covid restrictions have compelled classroom windows to be kept open. Since the start of the pandemic the city council has encountered a sharp rise in the number of families claiming clothing allowances.

Thus, the local authority of the largest city of one of the world’s most advanced economies has effectively admitted it can’t meet the most basic needs of our poorest children and must fall on the mercy of strangers. The Herald’s sister paper, the Glasgow Evening Times does what it always does when it identifies a need in the city and stepped up to carry the appeal.

Yet, no sense of popular shame has greeted this civic entreaty. No one, it seems, has thought to ask why a nation considered to be one of the most affluent on the planet meekly accepts that its poorest children are now expected to wear other people’s cast-offs to survive the winter. More than 80,000 children and young people live in Glasgow with more than half of them living in Scotland’s most deprived postcodes.

I don’t doubt the sincerity and moral purpose of Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government in asking its citizens to plug an essential funding gap. The Holyrood administration and the local authority annually hand hundreds of thousands of pounds to a bogus, anti-sectarian industry which refuses to acknowledge the historic and continuing curse of anti-Irish racism. And you begin to wonder if the money might not have been better spent providing essential winter clothes for its most disadvantaged children.

Around 250,000 children in Scotland now live in poverty. In September a coalition of anti-poverty groups and children’s charities criticised the Scottish Government for refusing to bring forward a cash increase for poor families. The group said the Programme for Government “fails to adequately respond” to rising levels of poverty that risk overwhelming Scotland’s communities in the coming months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The buoyant food-bank sector has done well out of austerity and the trickle-down approach that both Westminster and Holyrood favour in addressing persistent deprivation. We have now become so desensitised to the obscenity of entire communities relying on food parcels that the annual millions of those who keep requiring them now passes without comment.

In Scotland and across the UK we now promote hand-me-down economics rather than any commitment to tackling multi-generational patterns of poverty. The rest of us get invited to celebrate it with stage-managed festivals of sentimentality showcasing the nation’s innate kindness.

Earlier in the week, in the midst of Alyn Smith’s adolescent haranguing of SNP members for ejecting him from the party’s National Executive Committee he included the following gem. “Independence will be won on the centre ground, on an inclusive, radical, progressive, internationalist platform,” he wrote in The National. It was perhaps one of the few times that “radical” has found itself in the same sentence as “centre ground”.

The centre ground is exactly where the Tories like the rest of us to be. It lets them get on with maintaining their patterns of inequality relaxed in the knowledge that the left is safely tucked up in bed asleep. Mr Smith is considered to be very close to the SNP hierarchy. As such, it’s reasonable to assume that the barren and banal terrain of the centre ground is where they hope to fight inequality and poverty. This assumes that they were ever serious in the first place.

As coronavirus has proceeded we have also seen how the state subtly seeks to shift the blame for its spread onto our poorest communities: they just will not follow the rules. The UK’s poorest communities and the industries which support them have effectively been placed under curfew for the last nine months. Yet, what effect will that have?

We’re told it will stop the spread of the virus, but what about the other viruses that have been decimating these communities for generations? High rates of mortality, anyone? Persistent health inequality and the educational attainment gap? High unemployment; affordable housing shortages; the massive increase in foodbanks; fuel poverty caused by the state-approved cartelism of the energy companies?

And when an industry of sorts does exist in these communities it often faces being undercut by EU restrictions on state aid. This allows global corporations to flit across national boundaries knowing that supine governments like Scotland’s don’t have the imagination or wit to thwart them. Just ask the working class communities who are sustained by the Bifab construction firm in Fife which the Scottish Government have defenestrated while cowering behind state aid regulations. Yet this government desperately wants to take us back into the EU and thus swap Westminster rule for the capitalist whims of the German banking system. Just ask Greece how that works.

Only a properly-constructed economic model redistributing the massive reserves of wealth and property which roll unchecked across Scotland will help our poorest children. And that simply won’t be tolerated by the European Union.

Instead, it seems, the only redistributing happening in our most deprived neighbourhoods is of second-hand clothes being dropped off at pick-up points across west central Scotland. Let’s all give ourselves a wee pat on the back.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald