“TWAS the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...”

Yes, by now many of us will be completing the rest of this well-known and much-loved poem in our heads, so familiar are we with the conjured vision it evokes of a cosy family home where all is wreathed in silent expectation of good things to come on the following Christmas Day.

And then we continue that picture in our own imaginings: warm fireside, twinkling tree in the window and excited children exploring the contents of their Christmas stockings while, close-by, a table laden with delicious food and good things awaits their attention.

But hang on... Maybe that’s not quite the ‘house’ I’m thinking of as I write?

Perhaps it’s not ‘a house’ but rather ‘The House’? You know, the one at Westminster which is, indeed, our House and which ‘houses’ our democratic representatives at the heart of UK government: our own MPs.

And in that House this week someone was indeed ‘stirring’ - in all senses of the word! - and coincidentally declaring himself a part-player in another well-known C19th seasonal story: Ebenezer Scrooge, from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’?

I refer, of course, to the Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, who had the temerity to stand up in The House recently - only a few more nights to go before Christmas, remember! - and pontificate that it had been “a scandal” that UNICEF had stepped-in to ensure the most vulnerable children in some of our poorest UK communities - many utterly devastated by the fallout from the pandemic, through no fault of their own - actually have enough to eat.

To their immense credit, other ore sensitive, empathetic members of parliament rallied, quite rightly, to UNICEF’s defence in the face of this ill-timed and mean-minded attack, notably Sir Ed Davey of the LibDems and Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Opposition,the former describing Rees-Mogg’s tirade as ‘sneering’ which it most certainly was.

READ MORE: Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg under fire over UNICEF comments

As to who should actually be the most ashamed in this sorry non-fairytale from Westminster, it is surely not the venerable and venerated 70-year-old international aid body UNICEF.

Much more, the Rt Honourable Member for North East Somerset - Conservative - and indeed his supporters, who should be hanging their heads in shame that there are families and children in the UK right now, at grave risk of going hungry this Christmas of 2020.