IN the last couple of weeks, there have been two big, important votes in the House of Commons - one on the the scale of cuts that the Westminster parties have in store for us and the other on the planned renewal of Trident nuclear weapons.

These were separate votes, but there was nevertheless a very important connection between them.

At a time of austerity, when cuts are hitting our public services, communities and the most vulnerable in our society, does it really make sense to spend billions of pounds on a new system of nuclear weapons that have no practical use in the modern world?

My answer to that is quite clear - it makes absolutely no sense at all.

Even people who don't share my principled objection to nuclear weapons would, I suspect, question the wisdom of spending so much money on them when the things that really matter to us - like health and education - are facing so much pressure because of the austerity politics of the Westminster parties.

There was a time when that would have been the answer of the Labour Party as well - but, sadly, not now.

Having spent the last couple of years campaigning hand in glove with the Tories in the referendum campaign, Labour appears to be finding it hard to break the habit.

Two weeks ago, in the first of the votes I am referring to, Scottish Labour MPs trooped through the lobby of the House of Commons to vote with the Tories for an additional £30 billion of cuts.

And then, exactly one week later - and with only a few honourable exceptions - Scottish Labour MPs either abstained or voted with the Tories on a motion opposing the renewal of Trident.

These votes show just how far the Labour Party has moved away from the principles it once stood for.

But this is about much more than politics. The consequences of the decisions Labour is making will be felt by people across Scotland.

Renewing Trident will cost £100 billion over the lifetime of the weapons.

It is estimated that the annual cost will be £3 billion - rising to £4 billion during the 2020s.

Scotland's share of that will be somewhere in the region of £300 million a year.

Just imagine how much good that money would do if it was spent instead on the NHS, education and childcare.

The General Election in May gives Scotland the opportunity to elect MPs who will stand up for Scotland and argue for investment in public services over nuclear weapons - MPs who will always put Scotland first.

If there is a hung Parliament - which looks likely - we will never, ever, put the Tories into government.

But we could force Labour to act in a way that represents the values they once stood for, instead of like an imitation Tory party.

And we would make sure that the promise of more powers for our parliament is delivered in full.

This is the best chance Scotland has had in years to make our voice heard at a General Election and shake up the Westminster establishment.

I really hope we take it.