SCOTLAND’S media community gets a little sniffy at the thought of lending overt public and unqualified support to statements made by professional politicians, especially those who control the levers of government. A core function of a journalist’s calling, after all, is to question the words and actions of those we elect to serve us; to scrutinise them and hold them up to the light. We are not in the business of publicising unconditionally the thoughts of our politicians, or at any rate we ought not to be.

Very occasionally though, a sentiment is expressed by a senior politician that challenges this desire to rise above the partisan and the tribal and you find yourself searching for a good reason not to share it. Nicola Sturgeon’s open letter earlier this month to EU citizens living in Scotland was one of those occasions and I make no apology for endorsing it in its entirety. The following paragraph appears near the top of the First Minister’s letter and conveys a sense of its moral impetus: “Scotland is your home, you are welcome here, and you are valued. You play a crucial role in Scotland’s economy and public services. You are a vital part of Scotland not just for the skills and talent you bring to our country but also the diversity and richness you bring to our culture and communities.”

Sturgeon’s letter was as timely as it was welcome. The febrile atmosphere which has built around the Brexit pantomime in these past few weeks has come to resemble that which you might expect to encounter at a Texan horse fair. Evident in the midst of this, something more sinister has been permitted to fester. The sight of Tommy Robinson climbing on to a platform to address a major rally of pro-Brexiters in London who had marched there behind an Orange flute band gave us more than a hint of what has always lurked beneath the campaign to leave the EU.

It is as if, on seeing their prize beginning to drift back over the horizon, an order has gone out to dispense with any pretence of decency and civility. Thus Jacob Rees-Mogg was observed cheerfully giving succour to a hard-right (and that’s putting it politely) European group and his fellow members of the European Research Group seemed to style themselves in the nomenclature of the Ku Klux Klan. The process of legitimising and normalising language and sentiments once generally accepted as unacceptable has been pulsing in the shadows of the wider Leave campaign. Now it seems to resemble an open sewer in full spate. There was a reason why the UK Government put 3500 troops on standby in the lead-up to the original leaving date of March 29.

The most nauseating and depressing quote of the entire Brexit process appeared in a recent column by The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee. It belonged to the project leader of a food bank in Knowsley, Merseyside. Describing recent responses to calls for donations, he said: “I get people asking, ‘Is this food for British people?’ I never used to hear that, never. It’s hideous.” In reply he says that “this food is for hungry people”.

In Scotland, we like to think we occupy a place far above this filth; that we are a more welcoming nation and that in time if we attain our independence we will become “a driving force in the European Union”, in the words of our First Minister this week. Certainly, we voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and the debate here was mercifully free of the some of the unsavoury aspects of the campaign in England. Former UK Labour minister Tom Harris, who continues to champion the Leave cause, has been nothing other than respectful and measured in his arguments and always makes a reasonable case for leaving the EU. We would be fools, though, to believe that we occupy some enlightened Xanadu of diversity and racial tolerance here. Occasionally it’s been possible to detect signals of something more sinister and bleak.

On the south side of Glasgow the social problems which have blighted the community of Govanhill have gained a degree of national notoriety disproportionate to its size. To those who have never set foot in the streets that make up this community, it must seem like a place of unimaginable squalor where a Glaswegian version of Game of Thrones rages daily. Much of this stems from nothing more than a desire to attack Nicola Sturgeon, whose constituency includes Govanhill.

In truth, it is a decent enough, working-class community that hasn’t changed much since I lived there in the early 1990s. A large and sprawling diversity of races and ethnic backgrounds has always been a feature of Govanhill, including the Irish who came here throughout the last century and who continue to be prominent in this neighbourhood.

In recent years this has grown to include a few thousand Roma gypsies who have settled here, having chosen to leave behind discrimination and violence in their east and central European homelands. As with all groups who choose to live outside the neatly arranged boundaries of “normal” society, they are always the first to be blamed for its ills. They are easy targets.

The Roma have settled well in their new Scottish homes, where many of their children are flourishing in the local primary schools. The way Glasgow has welcomed them and helped them has been recognised throughout Europe. Earlier this month they hosted an International Roma Day celebration of their culture which featured a procession through the streets. It also highlighted the racial discrimination and hatred, born of ignorance and stupidity, which hounds them wherever they go.

This extends to the Scottish edition of a UK newspaper which, for reasons unknown, chose to endorse a local myth about the Roma selling their children for sex in the street. A two-year police investigation failed to turn up a scintilla of evidence for this. A more recent one accuses them of stealing and eating the ducks out of a local park.

It’s desperate and dangerous stuff which occasionally finds hapless and ignorant envoys on Facebook. Untidy back courts and dirty mattresses lying on pavements get cited as evidence of the sub-human nature of the Roma. The Irish community was once familiar with this type of racism (and worse) a couple of generations ago.

In other communities throughout Glasgow, open gangland warfare is conducted on the streets for control of a thriving industry in drugs and prostitution. In this city you can order cocaine as easily and cheaply as a pizza and the process of obtaining a gun is simpler than switching your internet supplier. The crime industry is largely owned and operated by indigenous, white Scottish men.

This seems to be alright with the social media racists. It’s the dirty mattresses and the bin bags which really bring the neighbourhood down. Is that right, aye?