SCOTLAND likes to consider itself one of the more progressive parts of the United Kingdom. While Theresa May was cosying up to Donald Trump and holding hands with a US president supported by the Ku Klux Klan, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was going to lengths to assure EU citizens that they are welcome in Scotland; recently, she became the first serving First Minister to address Glasgow’s Pride event.

But in the background, something sinister is lurking in the ranks of the opposition, and yet, as is becoming the trend with leader Ruth Davidson when the going gets tough, the Scottish Tories response to the latest disaster has been appalling.

First up last week came the news that two Tory Stirling councillors, Robert Davies and Alastair Majury, had been reinstated in the party after sickening social media posts emerged after their elections in the local council polls this year.

Davies had posted racist jokes online, while Majury used his social media account to make derogatory remarks about Catholics, and boasted about the size of his manhood on a dating website.

News that the pair had been reinstated following a suspension was met with astonishment on social media, and the news site I edit, CommonSpace, went to great lengths to try and gather more information from the Tories about which procedures had been followed in the course of their investigation, and what steps had been taken to ensure these outdated attitudes had been corrected.

Our questions were met with silence. When we requested an interview with Davidson, we were told she wouldn’t be available for “a couple of months”. She was later quoted on the BBC saying that the two councillors “wish to change their behaviour”.

But just as the Tories may be have been hoping that the story would fizzle out, another scandal hit them. It emerged mid-week that new MP Douglas Ross – who replaced the SNP’s Angus Robertson at the snap General Election in June – revealed during an interview that he would enact “tougher enforcement” against Scotland’s gypsy/traveller community if he was prime minister for a day. It followed previous comments by the former MSP that described ethnic minority gypsy/traveller sites as a “blight on communities”. This time, instead of a suspension and investigation to make sure Ross wants to change, the

Scottish Tories have decided to take

no action against him. They’re

directionless, and in times of

crisis leaderless – Davidson is known for her AWOL antics when PR isn’t going her way.

Runaway Ruth was criticised earlier this year when she refused interviews about the rape clause and UK Tory policy on welfare caps. Following the Tories’ General Election deal with the DUP, Davidson dived out of a TV interview after being quizzed about LGBT rights amid her party’s pact with a DUP that actively opposes LGBT equality.

Now, in the midst of a pattern of racist comments emerging from within her own Scottish ranks, Davidson the dodger again appears stricken with stage fright, which is a surprise given her usual friendly approach to media appearances when it involves, say, posing on military tanks.

Having spent a long time in the wilderness in Scotland, the Tories are now the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament. It is essential that Davidson cracks down on the behaviour of her elected officials in the strongest terms to ensure the safety and security of Scotland’s minority communities.

Her reluctance to do so should be setting off alarm bells. This is not rocket science, it’s really very simple: racism is abhorrent, it is dangerous and we have a duty to oppose it wherever its ugly head arises. How these most fundamental values are upheld – or not – is the mark of a leader’s integrity.

Just think – a Tory councillor who found a joke about black people being cannibals worthy of a social media post, could now have influence in forming Stirling Council’s anti-bullying and equality policies, and a Tory MP who would use his power as prime minister to punch down at an ethnic minority community in Scotland before he’d do anything else, is now representing Scotland’s interests in Westminster. What a reputation.

If Ruth Davidson doesn’t have the guts to deal with the dinosaurs in her party, it’s left to the rest of us to make the loudest noise we can to let the world know that Scotland will not tolerate this poison.