LAST week saw three developments: An SNP leadership race reached its concluding stages; a Budget that penalised the poor while rewarding those in little need and, at the same time, the heightening of the campaign to “Stop the Boats”.

The link between these seemingly unconnected issues is morality. This is the road less travelled by the Tories and their pink imitators in Labour.

You can tell most about a person or an ­organisation when they face a moral choice. Will they duck the dilemma or face it and in so ­doing provide the rest of us with moral ­leadership? What happens when someone is faced with an ethical choice?

It’s what we’ve done that makes us what we are. And don’t delude yourself, we have all been there. We are the direct result of the choices we made – or avoided.

Countries too make moral choices. It’s ­unavoidable. While it may not always be the case that an ambassador is someone sent abroad to lie for their country, there is an element of truth to it. Foreign relations are a key issue for most countries, with the exception of such as North Korea.

However, before a country can talk of its ­values and principles to others, it needs to be clear to itself what these are. This is the ­reason most developed countries have a ­written, ­codified constitution. It states what the ­country stands for, as well as what it will not stand for. Without this clarity, a country’s values may need to be proven afresh each time a crisis ­develops.

It also makes life easier in avoiding crises. A constitution could set down the principles that any leadership campaign might require to meet. Common principles also help the credibility of a successful candidate in confirming that rules were scrupulously followed.

A constitution might also require that ­principles of human rights and care for those in need are not negotiable; and may not be ­abandoned on a political whim.

Take the Budget. Voters were told this ­government was committed to a “low-tax, high-wage economy”.

Instead, we have constant ­battles and strikes by folks simply trying to get a living wage.

We now find out that taxes will soar to a 70-year high as UK faces “a lost decade for ­living standards”. Where is the morality in this gross abuse of the facts?

Having failed economically, the Government is now hugely enthusiastic about a new refrain: “Stop the Boats”. Spawned in a moral vacuum, this is the slogan the Prime Minister carries in front of himself much as a leper of old and a warning bell. It is immoral and disgusting.

Why is the Government doing this?

A large part of the explanation is that it ­expects to lose the next election on almost all grounds. Except one. Polling suggests voters can be diverted by culture wars. And one of the main culture war issues is immigration. So, they will beat the immigration drum as loudly and as regularly as they can. Imagine an ­unending sort of Orange Walk parading across your television screens for the ­foreseeable ­future with a drumbeat featuring minister after minister accusing others of being “soft on ‘millions’”, nay “billions”, coming to these shores.

Private Eye reminds us that 1823 saw the foundation of the Anti-Slavery Society, ­leading to the abolition of slavery in the ­British Empire. While in 2023 came the ­removal by the Home Secretary of the legal protection from modern slavery for people trafficked into the UK.

Does it have to be this way? Need we sink ever deeper into this moral abyss?

Of course, independence is a way out. But it still leaves our neighbours neck deep in a ­moral emptiness. And that’s not good for anyone. ­People need to speak up. Morals matter.

Here is a good example of someone who stood up and was not happy to compromise.

It cost him his job and sadly he is no longer with us.

This is a shortened comment on Robin Cook’s resignation speech in the House of Commons over the Iraq war. It is from a Guardian article by his adviser, David Clark, a former guest of mine on the TNT show.

“His speech is remembered for its moral ­courage and intellectual clarity. He couldn’t stop an unnecessary war and the horrific ­suffering it unleashed yet his intervention ­undoubtedly changed our understanding of its aftermath. As he showed in his speech, it was possible to reach the correct conclusion that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

Robin Cook stood up. And he was right. More of us need to do so.