ALMOST three months after the UK Government got up off its complacent fundament, some messages about how we sort out the wheat from the chaff are still being propagated. The polite name for this sort of approach is eugenics. Other locutions are available.

Thus we are still being told that the overwhelming majority of those dying from Covid-19 had underlying health problems and that a high proportion of deaths in Scotland have been connected to care homes. And – get this – the cost of lockdown could be as high as £200 billion.

So, owing to the codger quotient and careless people who get sick at the wrong time, such a level of financial outlay seems profligate. From there, of course, it’s a short journey to BAME people, the homeless and those whom we might consider to be “undesirables” on account of not being young, white, healthy, affluent and self-sustainable.

Some context is required here. In the 2015 budget the official price tag of the HS2 rail link was just shy of £56bn. Within five years that estimate has almost doubled to £106bn. Given how steep the northwards curve has become in this period, I would predict that the final bill won’t be far off £200bn. The UK’s insistence that it needs a nuclear deterrent and that it must soon be renewed will cost us more than £200bn. For one month of flag-waving and minority sports in 2012 the UK spent almost £15bn, almost nothing of which came to any Scottish firms.

Everything’s relative, of course, but whatever the cost to the UK of recalibrating the economy post-coronavirus, it is matched often by spending on less essential projects. Unless, of course, you subscribe to the theory that possessing an arsenal of WMD in case you get attacked by North Korea or Iran is an essential deployment of your money.

The inclusion of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities amongst those sections of society considered to be disproportionately vulnerable to Covid-19 is instructive. There doesn’t yet seem to be a scientifically certain reason why this should be so. According to Heart Matters magazine, research is being carried out into whether vitamin D might have a role in preventing or treating Covid-19. “The body produces Vitamin D from sunlight more slowly if you have darker skin, so some people believe vitamin D deficiency could be a potential factor,” it says.

The greater incidence of multi-deprivation amongst these communities is also being looked at. Before coronavirus, BAME communities were already more likely to be affected by heart and circulatory diseases along with high blood pressure and diabetes. Much of this has been linked to social inequality; not merely genetics.

On social media the BAME acronym is prevalent once more following the murder of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis at the hands (and feet) of American police officers. The family of Sheku Bayoh who died in police custody five years ago last month in Kirkcaldy know what it means to get on the wrong side of the “law”. Earlier this week Aamer Anwar, the Bayoh family lawyer, reminded us of the many similarities of Mr Bayoh’s death to that of Mr Floyd.

“You can never stay neutral over injustice. If you really want to fight racism in the USA and fight for justice, then why not start with where you live?” Mr Anwar tweeted. “The last five years the Bayoh family in the midst of their grief have had to campaign for justice, whilst Sheku Bayoh was smeared in his death. But did the system really think Sheku’s life was so cheap they would simply walk away quietly?”

The events of that day in Kirkcaldy – now the subject of a public inquiry – are part of a wretched and decades-long pattern. On a wider plane it also underlines how the British police are considered to be above the law they are sworn to uphold fairly. More than 3000 deaths have occurred in police custody in the past 50 years or so in the UK, yet not a single police officer has ever been tried and successfully prosecuted for murder. Black people figure disproportionately in these numbers.

THEY are 37 times more likely than whites to be stopped and searched by police and twice as likely to die in police custody. They are 44 times more likely than whites to be detained under the mental health act and three times more likely to be unemployed. These numbers are from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Institute Of Race Relations, the Mental Health Foundation and the Department for Work and Pensions. This injustice, like many others, hides in plain sight.

Such state-approved racism against black people has persisted unaddressed owing to the indifference of we who claim to care about such things. In England, an overwhelming majority of people voted for the party that made racism and xenophobia the central tenets of their Brexit campaign.

READ MORE: 'Black lives matter': Tories urged to act over higher Covid-19 risk for ethnic minorities

The rest of us meanwhile are unable to spare the extra few minutes to research those firms which profit from dark practices in the third world. We rarely stir to inspect the provenance of our gilded lifestyles.

Many of us are quick to accept the notion that there is too much immigration and that the “refugee and asylum seeker problem” must be sorted out. We choose rarely to see it from the other side: that these people, given an equal choice, would much rather remain in their countries of origin and rear their children there. But Britain’s historic ransacking of their lands and regional power games have destroyed their economies and left them vulnerable to the predations of war lords and dictators. They come here out of desperation; not because they actually want to be here. We would rather target them than look to our own role in their misery and feel perhaps that we might owe them something.

The Windrush scandal, where a 21st century UK Government visited a reign of terror on UK nationals of West Indian origin, happened only a few years ago. The Grenfell Tower fire was less than three years ago. In 2018, Glasgow University published a report into its historic links with racial slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries which yielded tens of millions of pounds to the institution.

Since then we’ve been so busy congratulating ourselves at such rare honesty and contrition that no-one has asked why all the other Scottish families and financial institutions who similarly benefited haven’t come forward. Our default setting on racism is indifference. Unless you think that a wee day out on a nice anti-racism demo once in a while is sufficient.