Mr Mundell does not seem to understand the concept of irony, and continues to insist that the growing need for foodbanks has nothing to do with his government’s austerity programme, especially its welfare policies. Everyone else in Scotland sees this link clearly, but he just keeps telling us we are wrong to “politicise” such situations. What did he think he was doing? The Trussell Trust says it is standard practice to invite the MP, but the town of Dumfries is not in Mr Mundell’s constituency. Did they set him up? Did he think he was stealing a march or pulling rank on Richard Arkless, the new SNP MP for Dumfries and Galloway? Whatever his motivation was, his judgement was appallingly poor.

Which should make us wonder. Until the May election, he was second in command in the Scottish Office. He was the only available Tory, but the coalition bosses preferred a Lib Dem. After May, he was the only available Tory, full stop, and finally landed the top job. He had been paid £22,375 on top of his MP’s salary for being the under-secretary of state, a junior minister post. Now he is paid £67,505 as Secretary of State, plus his salary as an MP – which is due to rise by 10 per cent.

Coming in to replace Mr Mundell as the junior minister is Andrew Downing, one-time political lobbyist, Downing Street adviser in Margaret Thatcher’s time, and chief advisor to David Cameron with special reference to the Scottish Referendum. This unelected political fixer was urgently promoted to the House of Lords as Baron Dunlop of Helensburgh, though he lives in West Sussex, so that he would be eligible for the job. And the salary for his Scotland Office job is £68,710 – more than three times what Mundell was previously paid, and more than Mundell is paid as Secretary of State. I presume he is eligible for some expenses for attending the House of Lords, though apparently salaried ministers do not get every possible expense there.

So never mind the 10% pay rise: David Cameron can apparently triple a junior ministerial salary on a whim, and Scottish taxpayers are now paying over £46,000 more each year to staff the top jobs in the Scottish office – mostly for an under-secretary resident in the South of England who sits in the House of Lords where he cannot be questioned by any of Scotland’s MPs. One would have thought that being answerable to the opposition is part of his job, but there you go… It will become increasingly clear that Mr Mundell, the only possible front-man for the Tories in Scotland, needs a minder, and that is Andrew Downing. Is it unreasonable to assert that Our Scottish Office is being managed by David Cameron’s unelected and unanswerable overseer? (Thanks to Andrew Learmonth, writing in The National on July 16, for information used above.) I am, etc Ian McFadyenCaledonian Road, Peebles