MY former constituency of Ochil and South Perthshire had a rather dubious visitor last week.

Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Trump and executive chairman of the far-right Breitbart News website, fresh from his cosy meeting in London with Tory leader wannabe Jacob Rees-Moog, attended the Scotland International Forum at Gleneagles Hotel. Even to a private business event he was an unwelcome guest in this spectacular hotel in our beautiful corner of Scotland.

Now, freedom of speech is a vital part of our culture in the UK and, by all accounts, Bannon got a tough grilling from business leaders attending the event.

However, as a former MP of this constituency, I think it’s a disgrace that this man was invited at all and I’m sure many of the good people of Ochil and South Perthshire would have been dead against it had they known. Bannon stands for everything we are opposed to and even if he is sharing these views in private, it’s a step too far.

I am already concerned with the overall level of coverage the far right seems to get in the UK as well as their blatant lack of concern for their involvement in legitimising hatred.

Steve Bannon did not appear on any major news networks while in the UK, nor did he conduct any interviews with the media. But his unpleasant presence has been felt and duly noted. This powerful and dangerous man has fingers in a lot of pies, and although he operates under the radar, the press has a duty to keep tabs on his movements and connections and inform the public. And yet, only a very few journalists seem to be on his case.

At the other extreme are broadcasters like the BBC, who seem to do everything in their power to give the far right a platform, even when the relevance of a commentator’s presence is questionable. Over the past week, I watched an unelected Ukip member on Question Time, and then the poisonous Nigel Farage on the Andrew Marr show, defending Trump’s Britain First tweets.

I’m not a great conspiracy theorist, but I wonder how much historians in the future will look back at this infamous period in 21st-century politics and apportion blame to a compliant media for allowing morally dubious right wingers to dominate our airwaves with their divisive agenda.

It’s all about normalising hatred and failing to hold the perpetrators to account. In the Marr interview, Farage attempted to spin the perma-tanned president’s social media endorsement of the anti-Muslim and bigoted Britain First movement, arguing that the liberal elite’s reaction was out of proportion. I think he must have conveniently forgotten about the murder of Jo Cox and the clear connection of that heinous crime to Britain First ideology. It’s hardly out of proportion to condemn a group riddled with religious bigotry on this count alone. Farage is laughing all the way to the bank (with his EU pension protected), safe in the knowledge that his friends in high places will promote him to the end.

Farage and Bannon also made time for a get-together last week; one can only imagine what these two men discussed in private. It makes my blood run cold. Because be in no doubt, something very dangerous, perfidious and alarming is happening in front of our very eyes.

Bannon hides in plain sight, his alt-right views spreading like a virus through global politics and into the front rooms of the dispossessed, the forgotten and the marginalised of society. He whispers in their ears, “it’s okay to hate, it’s not a crime to be prejudiced, it’s good to say what you think and stand up for yourself against foreigners, women, usurpers (fill in the bigoted blanks).” And Farage backs it all up in public, the acceptable face of extremism, complete with jolly demeanour, pint in hand and Union Jack socks.

Rees-Moog is another wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Tory eccentric, whose views lie to the right of Ghengis Khan, is tolerated and dismissed in the ancient British tradition of laughing off harmless, oddball toffs. But he is far from harmless and should be careful about the company he is keeping.

He and Bannon met to discuss how to further conservative movements in the UK and US, with an emphasis on Bannon’s “putting ordinary people first” slogan. It’s a laughable phrase to be uttered from either the silver-spooned lips of Rees-Moog or the elite American populist’s. Two less ordinary men would be hard to imagine. And Conservatism hardly has a good rep for representing the man/woman on the street who have borne the brunt of their austerity measures.

These men don’t represent the opinions of anybody I know or care about and they certainly don’t embody the vision we hold for Scotland. It all comes down to financial self-interest plus determination to preserve that elusive special relationship with the US at whatever cost. But the United States of America is so much more than this president and his thuggish friends like Bannon who represent it just now.

Sometimes when a relationship becomes toxic, when it becomes unpredictable and sinister, it takes strength to stand up for yourself and walk away.

If Hugh Grant could manage it in Love Actually then there must surely be a politician in office with the guts and the gumption to say enough is enough. Because the UK deserves better than this.