IT is one of the less admirable human characteristics that when times get tough, people look for someone to blame.

Politicians are an easy ­target, and as the US and ­Argentina both prove, there is ever the ­superficial appeal of the ­political outsider. Even, perhaps especially, if they are more than a little crazy and ­demonstrably ignorant.

Another regular scapegoat, however, is anyone who has arrived as a migrant. “They’re taking our jobs” is the kneejerk response of people all over the world, as witnessed in the electoral success of right-wing demagogues in Hungary, Italy and now the Netherlands, not to mention the ­latest Le Pen waiting not too far back in the French wings.

As the post-Brexit landscape has proved, there is not a four-deep queue of disenfranchised locals wanting backbreaking fruit-picking jobs or working all the hours for a pittance in a care home.

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The latest moves by our increasingly right-wing UK Government to threaten the sick and disabled with benefit cuts is a ­measure of their desperation to fill job vacancy ­numbers.

Plus a newly unemployed industrial worker in the north east of Scotland is ­perhaps not the obvious replacement for a bartender in Cornwall.

The latest migration figures have clearly spooked Westminster cabinet secretaries afresh.

An insult to the British people screeches Suella Braverman, perhaps the only person left who thinks Rwanda is a beacon of ­humanitarian values, even if they did solve some of their own migrant numbers by the police shooting Congolese refugees.

Her erstwhile immigration minister, ­Robert Jenrick (below), is busy recycling some of his politically late boss’s more outlandish proposals for kicking out foreign students as soon as their course is finished – not the obvious route to attracting a pool of newly skilled workers.

The National: Robert Jenrick

Another wheeze is to up the salary levels of workers allowed in and ban their ­families from coming. It’s a somewhat unique ­approach to filling gaps in care homes, too many of which have already shut up shop owing to staff and income pressures.

Oxymoron of the month is surely “­compassionate conservatism” as we read with mounting disbelief of the numbers of Caribbean migrants being deported or ­deprived of their British nationality because they’ve not got a passport or a matched set of documentation from their lifelong employment history.

Some of that Windrush generation came here as toddlers, their parents ­specifically invited to help the NHS. They found a country still racist enough to ban them from rented accommodation and hostile to them for no better reason than their skin colour.

Some of them lost their jobs and their home thanks to the Home Office ­targeting them. Some of them are still awaiting paltry compensation packages for their losses. Some of them have died waiting. Compassionate conservatism? Aye right.

Neither should Scotland pat itself on the back over these matters. Our own ­history is blighted by prejudice too. This is the centenary of a Kirk moderator ­calling Irish immigrants “a menace”.

In fact, when the Irish fled a devastating famine to come here in the 19th century, they were routinely “othered” and barred from a host of employment opportunities.

And, as we all know but rarely admit, some of our institutions are still rife with anti-Catholic prejudice; some protestants affecting a superiority complex not so very far removed from how some white Americans treat their black colleagues.

Nine years on, I’m still shocked at the thugs who rampaged around George Square the morning after the referendum result, venting their anger on anyone with the temerity to be sporting our ­national flag.

Prejudice, alas, knows no national boundaries as witnessed by what the Irish government has termed “far-right ­thuggery” following riots in Dublin last week.

Yet study after study tells us how ­migration has enriched the culture of our country. Our hospitality ­industries are just one sector where our ­palates have been educated by Italian, ­Indian, ­Pakistani and Chinese migrants among many.

Geography does matter, though. The overheated south east of England is a long-standing magnet for many migrants, though I suspect an Aussie gets a lot less hassle than a Pakistani. It’s also been a magnet for too many young Scots whose opportunities on home turf can’t match those available in London.

In addition to which, when politicians intone the need to address overstretched public services in that neck of the UK woods, it is hardly a problem ­replicated in vast tracts of Scotland where the ­hospitality industry is crying out for staff, having lost so many youngsters from mainland Europe.

Let’s remember too that as a nation we have a very long history of emigration ourselves. Not the enforced variety of the Clearances, but the choice to explore ­other nations and cultures.

In places like South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and much of the US, you can’t move far without tripping over a Caledonian Society.

And America, for all its recent ­divisiveness, can teach us a lot about how nationalities can integrate without losing sight of their heritage. New York houses a Chinatown and a Little Italy, both of which observe all their cultural ­traditions, as do migrants from Korea, Germany and Japan.

Yet stand in a diverse crowd in a sports stadium when the American anthem is played, and all these ­intermingled ­nationalities clutch the approximate ­region of their heart as if their lives ­depended on it.

It’s this overt sense of pride which the odious Trump tapped into with his ­ludicrous Make America Great Again rhetoric, a pitch amplified and distorted by the amalgamated union of paid-up nutters on social media. One of the more ironic monikers thrown up on that side of the pond was Trump calling his own site “Truth Social”.

Yet we are right to be alarmed when Trumpian soundalikes such as Geert Wilders in Holland and Javier Milei in Argentina garner sufficient popular appeal to migrate from the outside right to central midfield in their country’s elections. Milei has already invited The Donald to make a state visit to a country with 140% inflation.

“Follow the money” is an old adage. ­Follow the lack of money, if you want to understand why voters will plight their troth to men who shouldn’t have houseroom in a half-decent society.

Here in Scotland, we still have a ­government believing in some important core values, which some countries ­appear to have ditched. Though you have to ­sympathise with the voter who said the emergence of Wilders made her “ashamed to be Dutch”.

I have never been ashamed to be ­Scottish, but I do feel shame when I listen to the weasel words of both Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak faced with a desperate situation like the Middle East war.

Their supporters will tell you it’s the height of naivety to suppose our voice has a shred of credibility in major league ­forums like the UN.

Which is why we need our own seat at those tables like so many small and even smaller nations do – without the heritage and experience we can bring to them.

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Look at how independent Ireland was made an elected member of the UN ­Security Council four times over. Look at how Ireland devised and built fresh sea routes to mainland Europe when the UK became an inconvenient “third country”.

They did all that because they can. They have no need to ask anyone’s permission. No need to beg for recognition. No need to touch their national forelock.

I feel shame when I watch our ­country have sand kicked in its face on a ­regular ­basis by tinpot Westminster ­politicians who long since lost any shred of ­credibility.

And I feel shame when a chancer like Alister Jack can be deemed “best Scot at Westminster” instead of best ­Westminster spy in Scotland.