THE Scottish Conservatives' post-election nightmare continued last night after the party was forced to defend itself against accusations of sexism and racial insensitivity.

Opposition politicians lined up to denounce the Tories for appointing Jackson Carlaw, the man who told racist jokes at the party's recent election launch, to the post of interim deputy chairman.

The Conservatives were also put on the back foot by Carlaw's predecessor, Mars Goodman, who accused the party of being a "back-slapping boys' club".

Carlaw was promoted after a meeting yesterday at the Conservative party headquarters in Edinburgh.

The vacancy had been created by the departure of Goodman, who was forced to resign earlier this month after writing a highly critical report about the performance of chairman Peter Duncan during the general election campaign.

But Carlaw's appointment will be met with groans by Tory modernisers who remember the foul jokes he cracked at a party rally in April.

As well as telling a gag about the way Chinese tourists speak, he made an insensitive play on the word "de-feet":

"The only person recorded as having said defeat is marvellous: Robert Mugabe's chiropodist." Carlaw later apologised.

A car salesman, he has also had a number of well-documented business problems.

He was joint head of FirstFord, the dealership in the west of Scotland that was placed into receivership in November 2002.

He was also a director of Wylies (Automotive Services), which went into administration in February 2003.

In a further blow for the party, a copy of the report Goodman sent to UK party bosses about the Tories' disastrous general election campaign has been leaked to the Sunday Herald.

The secret dossier reveals Goodman's distaste for Duncan, whom she accuses of presiding over a "boy's club" and a Stalinist-style election campaign.

"We are fronted by the man who lost his seat and was responsible for a campaign of which the Politburo would have been proud, " she said.

The former deputy chairman also claimed in her report that she could rely on six votes in the 16-strong executive committee of the party and promised to fight "tooth and claw" for a better chairman.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said Carlaw's appointment was one of "breathtaking arrogance".

"You would think that someone who tells racist jokes should spend some time in the sin bin before being elevated to a prominent position. It's an extraordinary decision, " he said.

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: "The outgoing chairman accused them of sexism and they have replaced her with someone who recently had to apologise for his racism. The Tories have learned nothing."

A Tory spokesman declined to comment last night.