Farage blames hostile reception on “anti-English” sentiment

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By a Newsnet reporter

Nigel Farage, the ebullient leader of the right wing populist party Ukip who has been feted in sections of the UK media recently, discovered on Thursday that his reception in Scotland was considerably less welcoming.

Mr Farage had to seek protection in an Edinburgh pub after a press conference when he was mobbed by angry left wing and anti-racist demonstrators protesting against what they described as the racism and homophobia of Mr Farage’s party.

Mr Farage was in Scotland to relaunch his party in attempt to build on Ukip’s recent successes south of the border and to start its campaign in the Aberdeen by-election caused by the death of Brian Adam MSP. 

Protestors from Edinburgh University and Radical Independence joined Mr Farage’s press conference in the Canon’s Gait pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile where they barracked the Ukip leader as he met with media representatives.  Bar staff, concerned that the event was descending into chaos, demanded that Mr Farage and his retinue, the press, and the protestors leave the premises.

On leaving the pub, Mr Farage was confronted with yet more protestors, who chanted,  “Ukip scum off our streets”, and “Nigel you’re a bawbag, Nigel you’re a bawbag.  Na na na.”

Mr Farage attempted to take refuge in a taxi, but two taxis refused to take him, forcing police to conduct the Ukip leader back to the pub.  Eventually a police van arrived to take Mr Farage away.  As Mr Farage was led into the police van, protestors jeered: “How does it feel to be treated like an asylum seeker?”

Mr Farage blamed the demonstration on “anti-English” sentiment.  After one protestor had invited Mr Farage to “shove your Union Jack up your arse”, a visibly shaken Mr Farage told a reporter:

“We have never had a reception like this anywhere in Britain before. Clearly, it’s anti-British and anti-English. They hate the Union Jack.”

Although the protests were loud and raucous, there was no violence, no missiles were thrown, and there were no arrests.  Some observers described the protest as, at times, good-natured.  The protestors came from a range of left-leaning groups and organisations, and were not exclusively supporters or campaigners for independence.  The demonstration had no connection with the official independence campaign. 

A spokesperson for Yes Scotland said: “We had no knowledge nor any involvement in this incident. Yes Scotland seeks to run a positive campaign, and we would condemn any form of intimidation.”

A spokesperson for Radical Independence Edinburgh said: “Farage came up to Scotland to spread his racism and bigotry here – we showed he’s not welcome.

“His party Ukip have always achieved a derisory vote in Scotland but Farage thought that could change after their recent local elections successes in England.

“In 2014 we finally have the chance to get rid of the political system at Westminster that pours fuel onto the bigoted fire of Farage and Ukip Scotland wants to be a country that welcomes immigrants – but we need independence to make that desire a reality.”

Mr Farage was evidently unprepared for the depth of opposition his party faces in Scotland, despite his earlier confident claims that he expected Ukip to take seats in Scotland.  Earlier this week Mr Farage had said:

“We are growing in Scotland and have every intention of winning seats both at Holyrood and in next year’s European elections north of the border. A fantasy? Not in the slightest.”

However recent opinion polls show that the party, which is polling around 25% in opinion polls in England, has failed to make any breakthrough in Scotland, where its support remains negligible.