THE Tories are now all but indistinguishable from Ukip, having fully espoused that party's vision of the hardest possible Brexit and their knee-jerk fear of immigration. It's the Tory terror of being out-flanked on the right by the successors to Ukip which is the reason behind the British Government's mean-spirited and slow response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis and the decision of the UK, uniquely in Europe, to refuse to suspend visa requirements for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion and the destruction which is being wrought on their country.

We now have confirmation that the Tories and Ukip are connected by a revolving door with the decision of the Scottish "Actually Boris Johnson isn't so politically gangrenous after all" Conservatives to select Paul Henke as a candidate in May's local elections. Henke will stand for the Conservatives in Stirling. Henke was formerly the chair - the right-wing is having none of that stuff about gender-neutral titles - in Scotland.  

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Formerly an officer in the Royal Navy, Henke now makes a living as the author of the kind of thick paperbacks you can find in airports. His best selling novel is the saga of a Welsh mining family called "A million tears", which one reviewer dismissed as "about a million pages."

Henke had a spectacular falling out with Ukip after making a complaint to the press about Ukip's Scottish MEP, David Coburn. Henke was accused of "bringing Ukip into disrepute" and banned from having any further role in the party. However, it has to be said that Ukip in Scotland were perfectly capable of bringing themselves into disrepute without any assistance from Paul Henke, such as when Ukip's interim Scottish chair Misty Thackeray said Glasgow City Council was for "gays, Catholics and communists" or when an adviser to David Coburn made a "joke" about motor neuron disease on social media.

After leaving Ukip Henke turned to the Tories, who in addition to adopting Ukip's espousal of cutting all ties with the European Union have also increasingly espoused Ukip's hostility to the devolution settlement. In fact, shortly after Henke broke from Ukip his former party adopted a policy of advocating the outright abolition of the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, an extreme position which many in the Scottish Conservatives are sympathetic to, even if they don't want to say so out loud for fear of losing what support they've got left. Between them, Ukip and fellow Unionist extremists Abolish the Scottish Parliament Party managed to win just 11,110 votes in the regional vote in last year's Holyrood elections. 

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Politically insignificant as they are in their own right, the parties of the British nationalist right have nevertheless succeeded in dragging more mainstream parties to a more right-wing and British nationalist position, and that is where the concern really lies. On top of the recent decision of the Labour Party in Scotland to select as a candidate a man who was formerly a Grand Master in the Orange Order, we now have the Scottish Tories showing that they offer a comfortable political home to a former leading light in Ukip in Scotland.

In their desperation to shore up the anti-independence vote, both the Conservative and Labour parties in Scotland are demonstrating their willingness to make a pitch to the more intransigent varieties of British nationalism. This is a symptom of their weakness and their lack of confidence.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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