ELECTION time is fast approaching, and parties have been busy finalising their candidates. For journalists across Scotland and the UK, that means hunting season has begun.

While a traditional hunt might involve sitting in a hide for hours watching a waterway, this one involves a lot more trawling of social media activity.

Who has been liking and sharing what on Twitter/X? Are there questionable historic posts? What about Facebook? Have any candidates left their personal accounts open, and what have they been doing with it?

As John Curtice told The National, ahead of an election nowadays, social media checking is an entire "industry".

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No small number of prospective parliamentarians have seen their careers end before they can begin (or simply end) after some journalist or other had a dig through their social media history.

Unfortunately (for us at least), parties have become a bit more savvy to this – and vetting processes have become much more stringent. 

Just look at Lauren Townsend, a Labour councillor blocked from standing to become an MP by her own party in 2022, in part because she “liked” a post from former first minister Nicola Sturgeon

The strict rules make it even more of a story when one candidate does slip through the net – as happened to Scottish Labour this week.

The National: Keir Starmer's brand will be damaged by the fact he was pictured campaigning with the disgraced

Wilma Brown (above with Keir Starmer), Labour’s candidate in the key target seat of Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy, was suspended after The National first reported on her Twitter activity, which in some cases was overtly racist.

In one example, she liked a post telling a man apparently of South Asian descent he would “NEVER be an Englishman” and the English St George’s Cross “is not your flag”. 

It’s hard to see how Labour’s investigation can do anything other than remove her as a candidate. After all, would she have “liked” a post saying the same thing about the Saltire and Anas Sarwar or Humza Yousaf?

But another party, Reform UK, seem a lot less bothered about who may be representing them.

They have taken action against some, to be fair.

There was the candidate who described Scotland as a “turd that won’t flush” – he’s out.

And there was the candidate who Reform sacked because of inactivity. “We can’t afford to have people doing nothing in an election year,” the party said – only to later find out the poor guy was dead.

However, others are still on the ballot paper.

READ MORE: Scottish Reform Party candidate suspended after pro-cannibalism comments

We in The National newsroom were more than a little shocked, for example, that Reform chose to stand behind its East Kilbride candidate John Houston when we revealed he had called for public-funded prostitution. Yes, really.

Houston also claimed there “will be a mass extinction event in 2242” and that he is “the prophet of a new age”.

In a stunning response that really underscores how the party seems to lack more than a little attention to detail, Reform stood by their candidate.

They then told us, at The National: “The Scotsman needs to develop a sense of humour.”

We’re still not sure what the folks over at that paper did to be dragged into it.