IN an appointment that was always likely to be less of a new chapter and more of a copy and paste job, the Scottish Conservatives’ shiny new leader has been unveiled, revealing the all-too-familiar form of Jackson Carlaw.

He now has the unenviable top job at Team Tory on a permanent basis, but in his first week he already appears to be failing his first big test.

Whatever low expectations people have of political parties, most voters at least want to know that they will be clear about their opinions and stand their ground. But the point-blank refusal of Carlaw (below being interviewed by the press on the Tory's position) and his colleagues to pick a side when it comes to immigration has been remarkable. They won’t back Boris Johnson and Priti Patel. They won’t condemn them either. In fact, they won’t even enter a TV studio to debate the issue.

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The more I hear about the UK Government’s immigration proposals, the angrier I get. Terms like “cheap labour” and “low-skilled” are thrown about quite casually, and give great offence. Sometimes this kind of talk is rooted in racism, because it places economic value on people based on where they are from. Even more frequently it devalues all those who work in critically important roles in our NHS, in schools and in the care sector.

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It disregards the people across Scotland who pick our crops, or who work in the chronically low-paid tourism and hospitality industries.

It’s important to be clear – poverty wages exist because some people’s work is deliberately undervalued and exploited. And often those jobs involve dedication, patience, empathy, expertise, and sheer hard work.

The UK Government also floated the idea that there should be some kind of minimum language level before people are allowed to live here.

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Can you imagine if Spain introduced such a measure in the seaside towns populated by expat Brits? What of those already in the UK who do not speak English? And of course I’d love to see someone test this kind of rule by learning a bit of Gaelic, Scots or Doric instead of English.

These proposals are all the more abhorrent coming from the Government that just days ago was packing people onto planes with a one-way ticket to Jamaica even as a court was ruling that they hadn’t been given due process.

These are racist policies from a racist government.

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And that’s before even considering what they will do to our communities or our economy. It has been reported that the Scottish Conservatives are “secretly livid” about it. It’s the first of those words which does the heavy lifting.

Private, muted opposition to racism is not good enough. We cannot be silent when hatred and intolerance occurs, because to not challenge it is to let it grow.

It’s no real surprise that Jackson Carlaw is unwilling to challenge a UK Government determined to damage Scotland, in the same way that this once-committed Remainer went into the General Election campaign as a convert to a hard Brexit.

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The Scottish Conservatives used to portray themselves as more moderate than many of the extremists on the Tory benches at Westminster. But with the hard right faction fully in control of the party, there is now no such thing as a moderate Tory.

Having thrown their lot in with Brexit and with Boris Johnson, they find themselves unwilling stand up to the worse excesses of the UK Government, but equally unwilling to defend them. Even right-leaning voters must be wondering what the point of them is.

Our politics is at a very dangerous point, not just in these islands or in Europe. We face a far right agenda, with political influence being given to sinister figures like Dominic Cummings in the UK just as it was to Steve Bannon (below) in the US. While the Prime Minister tries to distract people with his ludicrous idea of a 20-mile bridge to Ireland, the first of the “weirdos and misfits” hired by his puppet-master Cummings turned out to be a eugenicist and racist.

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At a time like this people need to take a stand. If those on the right want to be taken seriously they must vocally challenge the extremists in their ranks, instead of desperately clinging to their electoral brand.

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Those of us who know that our society must reject the right’s ideology and the social, environmental and economic harm it threatens, need to strongly assert the values of an inclusive country that’s welcoming to those who choose to come here, and pro-actively engaged with the wider world, starting with our European neighbours.

That’s how Scotland can take a leadership role both at home and internationally; and both in the short term with our current powers and in the longer term when we become a full member of the international community.