THIS week, former chairman of Ukip in Scotland, Arthur ‘Misty’ Thackeray was sentenced to 270 hours of unpaid work for intentionally sending or directing sexual verbal communication.

Between 2007 and 2015 Thackeray made calls to 10 different women, which two said left them feeling ‘’disgusted’’ and ‘’violated and alarmed.’’ None of the women Thackeray targeted knew him, or how he had obtained their telephone numbers. It has been reported that he may have taken them from posters advertising slimming clubs.

Thackeray, 55, who stood for Ukip in Glasgow East at the 2015 general election, was charged under section 7 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 which relates to sexual verbal communication with someone who has not given consent.

Despite pleading guilty, being sentenced, and being put on the sex offenders register for three years – he has not been sacked from his taxpayer-funded post with Ukip  Scotland leader David Coburn MEP.

Before Thackeray was sentenced MEP David Coburn confirmed that former party chairman Thackeray remained working for him as his parliamentary assistant.

There’s quite a low-bar of expectation set for Ukip in Scotland, and in particular, its sole representative and leader David Coburn.

This is the man who once compared Scotland’s only Muslim government minister to a terrorist, saying: "Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza".

Coburn has also previously told a Holyrood committee he believes women are just a "special sort of a man.’’ He has become well-known for his outlandish comments, bizarre social media musings and his self-confessed aversion to "political correctness." 

However, David Coburn isn’t an eccentric uncle, he is the leader of Ukip in Scotland. A party which puts intolerance at the heart of its agenda, and one which is gaining traction south of the border.

Politically, Ukip may not look like they are capable of building up much support in Scotland. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold Coburn and his party to the same basic moral standards we do the others.

His woeful polling numbers didn’t stop him being invited on the leader’s debate during the run up to the 2016 Holyrood election. He may be an eejit, but he is an eejit with a platform.

By refusing to even condemn Thackeray, let alone sack him, he is sending out an insidious message about the value he places on women’s right not to be sexually harassed.

This is all painfully ironic of course, given Ukip's constant characterisation that immigration is a risk to the safety of women.

There has been some valuable work done by the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and campaign groups such as Zero Tolerance towards changing attitudes around sexual crimes.

Allowing a convicted sex offender to continue in a tax-payer funded position in a political party sends a worrying message to the public, not least the women Thackeray targeted.

Thackeray was sentenced this week, but it was all the way back in 2013 that a woman first reported a call he’d made to the police. At the time there was insufficient evidence to take the case forward, and it wasn’t until another woman reported in 2015 that he was investigated and subsequently charged.

This is why there can be no complacency, and why we have to ensure that women feel crimes of this kind will be treated with the seriousness they deserve. While there have been improvements in recent years, sexual crimes still go underreported. A contributing factor of that is undoubtedly societal attitudes, and how much value we place on the right of women to be safe.

Safe, means free from harassment – in the street and when we answer our phones.

Safe from unwanted sexual touching on public transport, in schools and in clubs.

Safe from rape and violence from men we don’t know, as well our partners.

If we are to move towards a country where instances of so-called "low level’’ crimes and harassment of women aren’t commonplace, then we have to remain vigilant against the normalisation and acceptance of them.

Ukip won two per cent of the vote in the 2016 Holyrood elections, and failed to win a single seat. That doesn’t mean that David Coburn can hide underneath the blanket of political failure.

There can be no weary sighs and "it’s Ukip, what do you expect?’’ when it comes to this. For as long as they are a political party with a platform in Scotland – they must be held to a standard.

The likelihood of them becoming a coherent political force may be slim. But for as long as they are trying to win our votes, we should be vigilant in reminding them of their responsibilities.