• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Making plans for Nigel

THE protesters who penned Ukip leader Nigel Farage into an Edinburgh pub on his last visit to Scotland have vowed to turn out in force when he returns north of the Border this week.

Left, Nigel Farage was hit by an egg thrown by a protester in Nottingham last week. Above, during his visit to Edinburgh in 2013, he had to be escorted to safety by police after being besieged in a pub while he gave media interviewsPhotographs:  Joe Giddens/PA;  Gordon Terris
Left, Nigel Farage was hit by an egg thrown by a protester in Nottingham last week. Above, during his visit to Edinburgh in 2013, he had to be escorted to safety by police after being besieged in a pub while he gave media interviewsPhotographs: Joe Giddens/PA; Gordon Terris

With Ukip riding high in the polls ahead of the European Parliament elections, Farage will address supporters at Edinburgh's Corn Exchange on Friday evening in his sole Scottish appearance before the May 22 vote.

In a reference to 2013's pub debacle, Ukip have dubbed it "the Edinburgh lock-in". However, behind the efforts at humour there are signs the party is concerned the event will be a focus for demonstrators who see Ukip's anti-immigration policies as racist.

In an email to party members last week, Ukip's Scottish chairman, Arthur Misty Thackeray, said of Friday's event: "Security considerations are paramount and as such attendance will be strictly limited to our members and selected guests. We will not be advising the venue location until nearer the time. Door security will be in operation."

Farage has already attracted protests as he tours the country campaigning for the elections. On Thursday, a protester hit him with an egg as he campaigned in Nottingham, despite the presence of four newly hired bodyguards.

In May 2013, Farage was humiliated in Edinburgh as he tried to help Ukip's campaign in the Aberdeen Donside Holyrood by-election.

About 50 students and socialists chanting "Go home to England" and "Racist Nazi scum" besieged him as he gave media interviews in a pub near the Scottish Parliament, forcing him to leave under escort in a police van.

A shaken Farage later claimed the protesters represented the ugly face of Scottish nationalism.

He said at the time: "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."

The following day he labelled the protesters "yobbo fascist scum" and said they were "filled with a total and utter hatred of the English". The SNP said afterwards that Farage had "lost the plot".

Scotland has six MEPs - currently two Labour, two SNP, one Conservative and one Liberal Democrat.

Polls suggest LibDem George Lyon is most likely to fail in his bid for re-election, with the SNP and Ukip vying for his seat in Brussels.

Law graduate Andrew Ashe, 22, of the Radical Independence Campaign, who was on last year's Farage protest, said the group would tell Ukip its message of "scapegoating immigrants" for wider economic problems was not welcome in Scotland.

Ashe said: "There are a lot of people up and down the country who are angry about what Ukip are doing and the coverage they're getting in the media, and who want to oppose this. We've shown before in Edinburgh that Ukip and their message are not welcome. This [Friday] will be a big and lively protest and we call on all the groups that oppose Ukip to come along."

Colin Fox, co-convener of the Scottish Socialist Party, said his members would also be turning out to confront Ukip.

He said: "The socialist way is to welcome people and we'll extend a nice welcome to Mr Farage. I'm really looking forward to it, given how he was received last time here.

"We can remind him how much we like immigrants here, rather than his xenophobic poison."

Friday's event also includes speeches from Thackeray and the party's lead Scottish MEP candidate David Coburn, plus a question-and-answer session.

Ukip said buses would bring supporters from Glasgow, Perth, Dundee, Fife, Inverness, Aberdeen and the Scottish Borders.

A Ukip spokesman said Farage "wasn't afraid of anything" and would not be deterred by "a bunch of middle-class students" demonstrating.

The spokesman said: "Security is part and parcel of the game, sadly. We've got to a place where we are obviously making a difference and those who wish us not to make a difference wish to stop us. There will no doubt be a demonstration, and if it's the same bunch of hairy types that had a go last time, fine."

Green Party Euro candidate Maggie Chapman said: "Nigel Farage and his party have been stoking up intolerance about immigrants in this election campaign.

"As someone who came to live in Scotland 16 years ago and found our country very welcoming, I would like Mr Farage to hear the case for treating people as equals. That's why I'm challenging him to debate with me here in Scotland."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

231091