The National:

THE UK Government is locked into another race to the bottom to see what new and vastly expensive system of asylum detention it might “nightmare up”.

Over the last 24 hours we’ve seen leaks in competing news outlets speculating that 10 Downing Street has proposed processing asylum applications by placing those seeking asylum in Moldova, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, on Ascension Island or “somewhere closer to home” – like a remote Scottish island.

The proposals get ever more outlandish: old ferries – maybe those Chris Grayling was trying to procure – and then oil rigs.

All of these suggestions are as Jeff Crisp – former head of policy, development and evaluation at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and now at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre – says, “dead cats”.

He tweeted: “Offshore hysteria in the UK at the moment. It will all end in tears. Hopefully Priti Patel's and Boris Johnson's.”

It’s telling that “home” in the minds of these warped imaginations doesn’t necessarily include Scottish islands, and that may be a source of comfort.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon slams Home Office plan to treat migrants like 'cattle'

Already the First Minister has responded to the latter suggestion by tweeting: “They can rest assured that any proposal to treat human beings like cattle in a holding pen will be met with the strongest possible opposition from me.”

The inventive opposition to inhumane treatment of new Scots will be fully guaranteed in activist Scotland should this particular idea come to fruition.

But never say never. Donald Trump got his golf course, “and the shifting sands of Balmedie and Aberdeenshire”, as Karine Polwart sings, “will never be the same”.

Dead cats indeed, and no doubt at all that they need to be seen as such and condemned. But mark my words, one of the dead cats will be a zombie. Joining the other deathly ways we already treat those seeking asylum, because we already have a terrible system of immigration detention.

It’s so bad that in 2013 Scotland’s Future stated: “In an independent Scotland we would close Dungavel, end the practice of dawn raids and inhumane treatment of those who have exercised their legitimate right to seek asylum.”

Dungavel is Scotland’s only “immigration removal centre” – a dire, dour place in the middle of a desolate moor, in an old Hunting Lodge, surrounded by many layers of razor wire.

This is already “the worst of times”. This is what happens and what it feels like when you have already lost the war

It’s the fag end of colonialism – the grouse moors, the clearances, and now the legacies of our refusal to take stock of and engage in reparative justice with those who see a new life in the UK.

The work of Detention Action and the many visiting groups around the country has thoroughly exposed the scandal of the UK Immigration detention system and asylum processing.

READ MORE: Shock at Tory plan to turn oil platforms into asylum centres

Since the mass movement of those seeking asylum into accommodation in what were once hotels and now are new forms of Home Office procured detention, we have been tracking the unannounced policy changes made for asylum accommodation in the City of Glasgow and across the country.

Just as Ireland announced phasing out its brutal system of Direct Provision, the UK is already sneaking it in. Gone is the meagre dignity of getting around £37 a week in vouchers for food, or having at least a door you can close on a flat or a room in private accommodation contracted by Mears Group or Serco, for their profit.

The National Audit Commission’s report on asylum contracts was utterly damning.

Repeated researchers and auditors, and Offices of Every Possible Accountability, have found time and again that our systems are degrading, inhuman and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money.

READ MORE: SNP: Scotland must be independent to avoid 'extreme Brexit disaster'

Detention Action’s alternatives to detention work have demonstrated that a more humane system would cost very considerably less.

But of course this all pre-supposes that profiting from human misery is not the end game for this particular UK Government and that cruelty, not least the imagination of cruelty done to others, is not precisely how authoritarian rule cements its hold and produces fear.

In early August I wrote a list on things to watch for:

- Use of Navy in the Channel for refoulement as in Mediterranean

- Further breaches of Refugee Convention

- Expansion of arms trade

- Further coarsening of media discourse

- “Offshoring” in concentration camps called “processing facilities” or the like

- Many dead cats

And things to demand:

- Full public inquiry into asylum contracts and end to any direct provision models

- Universal Basic Income in place of sticking plaster of food aid and food banks

- Digital dignity as utility to overcome deliberate isolation

- Access to justice like access to water

- Love. Beauty

Be vigilant. This is already “the worst of times”. This is what happens and what it feels like when you have already lost the war.

Cleave to all the goodness and lend your mind, your ears and your hands to those who stand firm, and stand against all manner of cruelty.

Alison Phipps is UNESCO Chair for Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow.