This week we received the horrific news about a Glasgow mum, a woman named Mercy Baguma, who was found dead in her flat with her ‘starving’ baby at her side. 

We do not yet know the circumstances of Mercy’s death; we do know that thankfully her baby lives and is being cared for by family. 

Waves of shock, fury and compassion have reverberated across the city as those close to Mercy have spoken of how she was universally adored with a smile that lit up the room.

We must acknowledge the reality that this was not bad luck for one tragic family. 

This was a predictable consequence of UK Government rules that mean people waiting for decisions on asylum claims are forbidden from working, but are also not allowed to claim benefits. 

It sounds like a nightmare, but it’s one that families across Glasgow are really living every day. 

There are sadly many people just like Mercy, trapped in poverty with no legal source of income and denied control over their lives.

The UK government deliberately makes people destitute – the ultimate xenophobic project of creating such a hostile environment here that people will return to their country of origin. 

It doesn’t work, of course, because people who have fled war, torture and persecution have no option of return.

What it does in reality is force people to depend on foodbanks, ruin their health with chronic stress, and go underground into exploitative situations to survive.

The ultimate aim of the hostile environment policy – which it achieves very well – is to dehumanise and demonise all migrants. 

The similarity between the asylum rules, the cruel benefit sanctions regime and the horrible fit for work tests endured by disabled people is striking – all of these schemes designed by Westminster to make it as difficult as possible to receive the financial support to which you are entitled, and blaming you for needing help in the first place. 

The Tories thrive by creating scapegoats. 

Why else have they started debates on obesity and Rule Britannia, when what should be in the headlines is their failure to deal with this virus?

An amazing array of groups in Glasgow work extremely hard to support people going through the asylum system. 

However where a whole sector relies on overstretched, under-resourced, largely volunteer labour, some people will always fall through the cracks. 

It’s simply not good enough for Scottish and Glasgow authorities to leave our most vulnerable citizens to this roll of the dice.

Ultimately we need immigration to be out of the hands of brutal Tories. 

We need a new, Scottish system with justice and dignity at its core, designed by people with experience of surviving the current one. 

In the meantime, though, we cannot sit back and sigh at a problem not of our making. 

The outpouring of generosity for Mercy’s funeral costs shows Glaswegians want to take care of all of our mums and babies.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that people living in total despair don’t only receive support when it’s too late.