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Why it's great Scots have a Ukip MEP

Just ten per cent of the vote and Ukip wins one of the six Scottish Euro seats? It doesn't seem right somehow.

Of course, having only six places to distribute doesn't allow for mathematical precision. A lot of rounding up is needed. Sorting out six seats is maybe less of a problem for Luxembourg with a population of half a million. But it's a grotesque exercise for a country of five million. For goodness' sake, the north-west of England has more MEPs than Scotland!

If Scotland was an independent state, it would be entitled to a thirteen seats. One Ukip MEP out of thirteen is one too many for my liking but it would at least more accurately reflect that party's support in Scotland.

Some may think it's daft to talk hypothetically about Ukip in an independent Scotland. In that eventuality, it would surely have packed up and gone back to England, wouldn't it?

But Ukip doesn't do logic and rationality. Mr Coburn has already declared his intention to stick around in the event of a Yes vote. In an independent Scotland, he clearly sees plenty of scope for Ukip's own special brand of craziness. It could campaign to exit one union, the EU, and enter another, the UK. It could call for English immigrants to be welcomed and all the rest barred. It could argue that people with strange accents shouldn't be allowed to buy the house next door. That should keep the Glasgow hoi-polloi out of Milngavie. It all makes sense - UKIP sense.

It depresses me that Scotland now has an elected representative of the neo-nasty party. But that's democracy. And there are positives in having our own Caledonian version of Nigel Farage. There should be lots to scoff about. Unfortunately, although David Coburn is a dead ringer for a giant panda, all the political jokes about these creatures have already been used up on the Tories.

Still, Mr Coburn hasn't wasted any time setting out Ukip's very distinctive Scottish message. On election night, he called Scotland a "socialist state", its government "a nasty little dictatorship", compared Alex Salmond to Robert Mugabe and stood up bravely for Scotland's mediaeval land-ownership system.

English Ukip may be full of fruitcakes but the Scottish branch looks to have its full quota of shortbreads. Joking aside, having Mr Coburn as an elected representative will at least allow close scrutiny of the "Ukip revolution" which he says has now come to Scotland

For example, will he live in Scotland? That seems the least to expect of a Scottish MEP after all. Of the six election winners, only Mr Coburn did not have a Scottish address. His was declared as being in Kensington, London.

It will be interesting to monitor Mr Coburn's activities as an MEP. He says his mission in Brussels is to make himself redundant. No doubt, he'll want a hefty severance package. The track record of Ukip MEPs up to now appears to be to take as much money in salaries and expenses for as little effort as possible. I wonder where standing up for Scottish interests comes on Mr Coburn's list of EU priorities? Then again, Mr Coburn would probably say that there are no distinct Scottish interests. He insists his election shows that "people in Scotland are as worried about the same things as everyone else in the rest of the United Kingdom" and that "Scots are no different from everyone else". Well, David, thirty per cent of English voters plummed for your lot. That seems quite a difference to me. Three times as much, actually.

No differences? In the Euro elections, 55% of Scots voted for either Labour or the SNP. Almost the same percentage in England voted for Ukip or the Tories. If Scotland and England were currently independent states, such outcomes would seriously question the possibility of creating a successful political union out of such contrasting cultures.

Then there's the survey indicating 70% of Scots have serious concerns about immigration and membership of the EU. Of course, they do. For most folk, the EU is a faceless bureaucracy which does little except promote the interests of big business. And it's working class communities which pick up the tab for unplanned, unmanaged immigration.

Discontent about the EU and immigration isn't necessarily reactionary. These issues are part of any progressive, anti-globalisation agenda. Scots may be anxious about the EU and immigration but let's get one thing straight. 10% of them voted for Ukip, not 70%.

Letting Ukip run amok on the populist issues of the EU and immigration allows it to hide away its social elitism, its neo-liberal extremism and its jingoistic chauvinism. The political community in Scotland needs to expose Ukip for what it really is. The best thing about Mr Coburn's election is that it will surely focus the other parties on doing just that.

Mr Coburn may turn out to be as much a clown as the rest of the Ukip luminaries. But in the end, it's hard to keep on joking about Ukip. Even for the length of one blog. What Ukip stands for is no laughing matter.

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