This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

Even though the party is currently taking huge bites out of the Conservatives' vote, it still comes as a shock that one of its candidates advocated cannibalism.

While there has been some gnashing of teeth in Reform UK over the sudden scrutiny of its candidates, it’s doubtful that anything among the various pro-Putin, fascistic or economically illiterate social media posts that have tripped them up has matched an appeal to eat the flesh of man. So far.

But it’s true. In April, the avowed animal rights activist and Reform UK candidate for West Aberdeenshire called for meat-eaters to “eat other humans” and for the human race to be “obliterated.”  

Iris Leask, who has since been dropped, also said that former defence secretary Ben Wallace “should be left to die” in Afghanistan. 

Ms Leask previously shared a petition on her social media calling for the end of horses being slaughtered for meat in the US, writing: "If you want to eat meat – eat other humans!!! leave the animals alone. They're not here for you to murder! What gives you the right to take the lives of other beings? pick on your own kind."

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Sharing another petition calling for the end of shark hunting in Australia, she wrote "Should be human and chips on the menu instead!"

So perhaps scrutiny of its representatives' past social media use should have been food for thought at RUK HQ. But apparently not.

On Thursday the latest ‘strong opinions’ of a Reform UK candidate were revealed when Jo Hart, the candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, reportedly described the Royal Family as "benefit scroungers".

She also wrote "f**k the Royals" and "make Lizzy the last". 

Ms Hart is standing in the same constituency as Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross, where Reform have been keen to get their teeth into a campaign they may have regarded as winnable.  

Jo Hart, Reform UK candidate, is standing in the same constituency as Scottish Tory leader Douglas RossJo Hart, Reform UK candidate, is standing in the same constituency as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross (Image: Newsquest)
The area is as close to a bastion of unionism as you can find in Scotland, having switched between the SNP and the Conservatives in recent years. And with Reform UK putting the fear of God into Tory candidates down south as they hoover up support, the party would be hopeful of biting off a chunk of the North East. 

However, the area – while not Royal Deeside – is still the Royals' summer stamping grounds and good sentiment towards His Majesty et al remains high.

So nailing your republican colours to the mast quite so fervently may not have been the best idea for Ms Hart, because these things will come out. 

The candidate, a former nurse and midwife now working as a wellbeing coach, says she was inspired into politics after growing up on a farm and seeing the depredations red tape has caused the agricultural industry.

Like many of the party’s Scottish candidates, she opposes any moves to net zero and blames moves to combat climate change for the ills currently suffered by the sector.

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One of the problems for Reform UK – which is standing in every seat in Scotland – is that it has been caught on the hop by this election.  

Its candidate list has been hastily assembled and several have already fallen afoul of things they have said in the past.  

Along with the cannibal-adjacent Ms Leask and the ‘off with her majesty’s head’ approach of mother-of-two Ms Hart, would-be MPs in England have been caught out by pictures of themselves with far-right figures, calling King Charles ‘weak’ and demanding Labour MP Diane Abbott to be deported.

Grant StClair-Armstrong, who was standing in Saffron Walden, the Essex constituency where Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch was the most recent MP, tendered his resignation following reports that he had previously called on people to vote for the British National Party (BNP). 

But that is the least of its worries in Scotland. Polls have shown Reform UK creeping to within touching distance of the Conservatives in England – both parties seem stuck around 18% – and that opens the door to them winning a handful of seats while ensuring Tory candidates by the score lose to Labour and the Lib Dems by splitting their vote.  

But north of the border, Reform is stuck on 4-7%, behind the Scottish Greens – who don’t have much hope of returning an MP either.  

And that is because their anti-immigration, back-to-British-basics schtick runs headlong into the constitutional divide that dominates Scottish politics.  

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Reform UK is unionist – the clue is in the name – and here they are at the back of a long queue of parties vying for the anti-nationalist vote. And polls show most Scots are simply more receptive to the idea of immigration than the rest of the UK, meaning there’s little fertile ground for Reform’s agenda to take root.

Furthermore, with the party positioned as a vehicle for anti-Labour and Tory discontent, Scotland already has the SNP and the Scottish Greens to tick these boxes.

So there is little room for Reform UK to maneuver in the run up to the general election, and Scots can sit back, and watch the party eat itself alive.