By a Newsnet reporter
UKIP leader Nigel Farage is to lend his party’s weight to the campaign against Scottish independence.
In his victory speech after his party emerged with the largest share of the vote across the UK, the outspoken leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party pledged to “inject a completely new dynamic” into the debate over Scotland’s constitutional future.
Speaking after his party had secured 27.5% of the vote across the UK, and 23 MEPS – one in Scotland, Farage said his party had: “Made a breakthrough in Scotland”.
This was something “Alex Salmond will not like very much at all” he told his audience before adding: “We will inject a completely new dynamic into the referendum on separation(sic) for Scotland”.
The pledge by the leader of UKIP will be seen as unhelpful to those campaigning against Scottish independence. UKIP’s policy of taking the UK out of the EU runs counter to one of the main arguments put forward by the anti-independence campaign, which is that only a Yes vote is a threat to EU membership.
UKIPs stance on immigration is also considered by many to be racist.
Mr Farage’s personal attack on Alex Salmond will also cause discomfort to those opposing independence as they attempt to try to portray both men as somehow pursuing similar policies.
Following the success of the controversial pro-UK party, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont moved quickly and attempted to link UKIP to the SNP.
In a statement issued last night she said: “Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage represent the same things …
“Those of us who believe in a just and fair Scotland need to stand firm in the face of these two.”
Ms Lamont’s claim that both men represented the same thing will puzzle many onlookers with Farage’s anti-EU views contrasting sharply with the pro-EU stance of the SNP. The First Minister has also expressed views on immigration that are the polar opposite of those of the UKIP leader who was recently accused of making racist remarks by Ms Lamont’s own leader, Ed Miliband.
Scottish Labour MEP David Martin also caused controversy by urging UKIP’s new Scottish MEP David Coburn to send a letter to the SNP leader thanking him for UKIP’s Scottish success.
The Labour MEP said: “There’s no doubt in my mind that [Salmond’s] decision to polarise the debate between two extremes is the reason why David Coburn is today in the European parliament,”
The comments from the Scottish Labour leader and her MEP brought a stinging rebuke from Scottish MEP Alan Smyth who described Lamont’s accusation “a boomerang attack”.
SNP MEP Alyn Smith said: “This is a boomerang attack from Johann Lamont – the hypocrisy of which helps explain why the SNP have just defeated Labour in yet another national election in Scotland, after more than seven years in government.
“Ms Lamont’s own deputy, Anas Sarwar, has incorporated UKIP into a combined vote for the ‘Pro-UK parties’ – the uncomfortable truth for Labour is that they are on the same side as UKIP, the most reactionary party in UK politics, in Scotland’s independence referendum.”
Ms Lamont’s Scottish deputy Anas Sarwar controversially boasted that parties opposed to independence had outpolled their pro-independence rivals. However opponents criticised the Labour MP pointing out that he had included support for the racist BNP and Britain First in his figures.
Responding to Martin’s remarks, Mr Smith added:
“UKIP did worse in Scotland than in any other part of Britain by far. UKIP topped the poll south of border because the Westminster parties have pandered to their agenda. In Scotland, the SNP took them on – and we won the election.”