AMONG the most valuable rights of living in Scotland and the UK are the freedoms we enjoy. We take freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of privacy for granted.

These freedoms are embedded within our national soul and our identity – and the concepts underpinning them were exported around the world through liberal democracy. Many of these great liberal thinkers were Scots: giants like David Hume, Adam Ferguson and Adam Smith. But following the events in the Scottish Parliament last week, one can only assume they are now spinning in their graves.

I am, of course, talking about the decision of the Scottish Parliament to pass the Hate Crime Bill into law. In its history, there may never have been a more craven abdication of collective moral duty by those 82 MSPs who lined up to support it.

This authoritarian and sinister piece of legislation crosses the political Rubicon in making every conversation, every utterance, whether private or public, potentially criminal. It allows the authorities the ability to charge individuals on the basis of statements considered “abusive by a reasonable person”. This is an attempt to crush and silence dissent from the wisdom of those in power and their friends in the Scottish establishment.

Who is to determine what “a reasonable person” would consider “abusive”? Will this arbitrary term entrap the feminist arguing for their rights as women, the person of faith who doesn’t want to have same-sex marriage in their church, or other numerous examples I could use of those arguing against the wisdom of those in power in our society?

We don’t need to agree with those views but we must be willing as a society to allow them to be aired. It is surely the right of every citizen in a free society to air views that are not considered reasonable and which the majority may well reject as extreme or objectionable.

There was a time when it would have been considered unreasonable and abusive to argue for the emancipation of Catholics, the legalisation of homosexuality or the legalisation of abortion. But now all those positions are the conventional wisdom and it is considered extreme or objectionable to argue against them.

We are meant to be a free society and that sometimes means having to deal with and listen to people we do not agree with, even if they are arguing for something we find distasteful.

To be that free society means we must ensure that the majority can never use their position and power to charge and imprison those of minority views, if only because sometimes we come to see the minority were correct all along. Only the Scottish Conservatives opposed this bill and are committed to repealing these sections of the bill in our election manifesto. The Hate Crime Bill means that our citizens are now living in a much less free society than we were last week.