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Parliament returns from its summer recess next week. The Government are insisting on scrapping nearly all the protective measures that have been in place since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This means that for most business in the House of Commons MPs who want to take part will have to be present in the chamber throughout. They’ve even stopped asking MPs to wear face coverings. This meant that during the recent emergency recall of parliament Tory MPs could be seen packed in like sardines, almost none of them wearing face coverings – a recipe for disaster.

This week I’ll be holding the last of my summer surgeries. I’m grateful to all the constituents who attended for their co-operation with the changes we needed to make to remain Covid safe.

I was grateful to the Clark family at Little Lunn farm near Windygates who hosted a discussion with local farmers and NFUS representatives recently. One of the big issues facing our farmers just now is a severe shortage of seasonal labour. Covid travel restrictions haven’t helped but the UK has made a complete mess of its immigration policies following Brexit and many farmers and food processing businesses are struggling to get their crops picked and ready for sale. Related to this is the question of why so many young people in Fife and elsewhere in Scotland no longer want to even consider working on a farm even as a holiday job.

One way we can all help our local food producers is to buy locally where we can. If you can’t find locally labelled produce in your shop, ask where it is. Even if they don’t usually stock it, they will if enough customers ask. We’re also seeing the return of local Farmers’ Markets and similar events which I’ve certainly missed during the lockdown. I recently went along to the Leven Artisan Market, held on the second Saturday of every month. As well as the chance to buy top quality produce it was great to catch up with organisations such as CLEAR Buckhaven who do such great work in our community.

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has threatened to hand that beautiful and ancient country back over to the brutality of the Taliban. The situation has been made even worse by the UK Government’s catastrophic failure to respond on time to the crisis. During the emergency debate in Parliament it was noticeable how many Tory MPs spoke damningly of their own Government’s inaction. There’s a real danger that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Afghans who worked with UK and US personnel to deliver a peaceful future for their country will now be left behind and in mortal danger. Those who were lucky enough to get out of Afghanistan have lost everything. I’m pleased to see that the Scottish Government has already said we’re ready to welcome refugees from Afghanistan.

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