BACK in the Seventies, in the middle of what was known as the Winter of Discontent, Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan came back from attending a conference in sunny climes and his state of denial about the problems facing the UK at the time was summed up in a headline as "Crisis? What Crisis?"

Today we are stuck with a prime minister who doesn't just seem not to know there is a crisis facing the country – he really doesn't care.

He is a lame duck leader who once again took off on his holidays when there was work needing done.

Thankfully, Scotland has a first minister who knows there is work that needs done.

Representatives from companies across the energy sector were called to Bute House for a summit and they have agreed to work with the Scottish Government on a package of support measures to help people struggling with the cost of living.

That is the sort of leadership that should be coming from Number 10 but there is little chance of that – now, or in the future, as the two candidates vying to take over the role have shown so clearly this week: one telling people that it was a mistake to listen to scientists on Covid and the other eagerly declaring her readiness to launch nuclear weapons and bring about global annihilation.

As well as rising prices, Callaghan's Winter of Discontent was known for strikes across a range of sectors as workers, understandably, tried to ensure that their wages could keep pace with rising costs.

The Scottish Government totally understands why workers in local government and the health service are campaigning for pay deals that reflect the rise in inflation.

But, infuriatingly, as Nicola Sturgeon has pointed out, the Scottish Government simply does not have the capacity to do anything other than produce a balanced budget every year.

She said: "We're trying to be as fair as we can within those constraints. These negotiations are ongoing and we will bust a gut to try and avoid industrial action in our health service and everywhere else but I don't pretend these are easy times for anybody."

With the powers that the UK Treasury has, we could make decisions that affect how big the cake should be, not just how to slice it. Those are the powers that come with being an independent country and they are the powers that Scotland sorely needs.

Where Scotland does have powers to make a difference it is doing so – with "game changing" initiatives such as the Scottish Child Payment and from this week, the role out of the Adult Disability Payment.

People already receiving the UK Government's Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance do not need to make an application for Adult Disability Payment.

These existing awards will begin to transfer automatically from DWP to Social Security Scotland from this summer.

Social security is a shared investment to help build a fairer and better society together and this is why Social Security Scotland has been designed with dignity, fairness and respect at its core.

This will ensure that when people apply for benefits, the focus will be on making the right decisions first time.