YOU never see rats boarding sinking ships.

And yet Douglas Ross did just that as he took up the Tory candidacy for the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat earlier this week.

Conveniently, it had been recently vacated by his colleague David Duguid, who is currently in hospital recovering from a serious spinal injury.

The party have said he is too unwell to contest the election but Duguid disputes this and has said he was looking forward to the campaign.

A minor detail of all this is that he will now miss out on a £15,000 redundancy payment which Ross will get if he fails to win the seat.

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Internally, Tory activists and politicians are said to be furious about the decision – which has been capitalised on by the party’s opponents in the SNP and Labour.

First Minister John Swinney called Ross “despicable” for the move and the Scottish Tory leader squirmed when he was confronted by STV’s Colin Mackay who said he had “sacked him on his sickbed”.

A cynic might say the Tories are looking at Scotland as, oddly enough, one of the few places they could hold onto some seats.

Reform are not as big a threat here and in marginals against the SNP the Unionist vote could be persuaded to back the party to keep Swinney in check.

That was until this week Rishi Sunak apparently decided to throw the election campaign into the fire by deserting the D-Day landing commemorations event in France early to do a TV interview.

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In a moment of quite breath-taking stupidity, the Prime Minister decided to sacrifice the Tory pillar of patriotism because of a timetabling problem.

So severe was the error – failing to participate fully in one of the great performances of Britain’s national myth – that bookmakers are slashing the odds on whether Sunak will still be the leader of the Conservative Party on election day.

Even the SNP got in on bashing Sunak for what he has now admitted was a “mistake”. If the Scottish National Party can question your British patriotism, you’re in really quite a bad place as a Tory politician.

Elsewhere, at a party in Westminster last night, I met a fellow who works for a publishing company that specialises in biographies of musicians.

He told me about his career highlight of meeting a member of The Four Tops. But his real excitement was reserved for telling me about a book on the Scottish punk scene in the 70s and 80s.

It features the Perthshire band Nocturnal Vermin, who in 1982 recorded the song John Swinney (We Salute You) about their then-schoolmate and future First Minister, featuring the lyrics: “He's the new Messiah, inny? Save the nation with John Swinney”.

Incredible stuff.

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