“Make sure you don’t make me look like Margaret Rutherford,” hoots David Coburn as our photographer starts clicking away. I can see what he means. Ukip’s jowly Scottish spokesman is wearing a full-length tweed coat with matching bunnet, set off by a bawdy yellow and purple scarf – party colours – and matching rosette. I must say, I’m more reminded of Toad of Toad Hall than Ealing-era cinema’s battle-axe-in-chief, but there you go.

One thing you can’t dispute is that Coburn certainly looks British, in that nostalgic way that brings to mind the theme from Housewives’ Choice. It’s a look that harks back to a sepia-toned era when women were ladies, teachers were masters and Britain was allegedly still Great. No one is going to mistake Coburn, an MEP and the party’s only elected representative in Scotland, for a slick, modern European bureaucrat, and that suits him fine.

Of course, this is all part of the Ukip narrative that seems to go down a storm in parts of England, but has yet to persuade Scots of its merits; despite fielding more candidates than ever before at the recent Holyrood elections and talking up their chances of a breakthrough, the party failed to win a single seat.

They have had a low key referendum campaign north of the border but perhaps Thursday’s ballot on membership of the European Union offers hope of a different reception from Scots voters? This, after all, is Ukip’s firmest territory, its very raison d’etre; and the result looks far from certain. Opinion polls can get it wrong, of course, but they consistently suggest Scots will vote emphatically to stay in. Scratch beneath the surface, however, talk to folk in fishing and farming communities, small businesses, and you do find dissatisfaction and frustration with the EU. Some in working class communities, meanwhile, blame immigrants from eastern Europe for taking jobs and undercutting wages. Then there’s the general feeling that the EU is out of control, run by a wealthy elite for the benefit of wealthy elites across the continent, a malaise that pervades among as many weary Remain voters as Brexiteers.

In Scotland, some have pointed out that the pro-EU SNP is in a tricky position as it tries to explain while staying in one union is good, while remaining in another - the UK - is bad.

All this is exactly the sort of thing that Coburn, is keen to tap into, and he’s come to Falkirk town centre on a dreich Saturday to drum up support for a Leave vote. The first thing that strikes you about the 57-year-old Glaswegian is his genuine enthusiasm; he’s jovial, engaging and clearly loves talking to folk, whether they agree with him or not. Indeed, once you get Coburn started, he’s almost impossible to stop. There’s no spin doctor around to tell him which questions to answer, or to clarify “key messages”. Ukip doesn’t have such people, he says, because they’re not “weird party clones”. What he does have, however, is a rather disparate band of supporters, with a range of views and axes to grind; more of which later.

Indeed there’s no real need to ask Coburn, a former antique dealer and City trader, many formal questions. Instead, he just talks and talks and talks, mostly about how terrible the EU is, how terrible the SNP is, how “authoritarian” Brussels, London and Edinburgh are.

Ukip speaks up for normal people, he says repeatedly. I suppose it depends what you mean by “normal”. Indeed, perhaps a spin doctor would have prevented some of the controversies that have led to Coburn being described as “gaffe-prone” by even his own party members, some of whom have called for his resignation. Other critics accuse him of being racist and sexist, citing instances where he compared SNP minister Humza Yousaf to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza, and referred to SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh at various times during a pre-election debate as Pashmina, Jasmine and Tamzin, then “love”, “dear” and “honey”.

Coburn vehemently denies both of these accusations, saying he is a victim of political correctness and “enemies in the media”. He adds that he is a “raging homosexual, which would suggest that I’m probably more liberal minded than most people”, and later describes himself as “feminist to my bootstraps”, adding that “you shouldn’t get off things just because you’re a women”. He blames the EU for making women’s lives harder by being “super mad on equality laws”. He blames it for a lot of things, of course, including the poor quality of toasters and the "peely-wally" nature of the toast they produce. But back to the allegations of racism.

“Look, I’ve spent lots of time working abroad and I’ve got more friends in the Arabic world than I do here,” says Coburn, who is an Arabic speaker. “I’m not a ‘little Scotlander’. Everyone who knows me will tell you that I don’t have a racist bone in my body. I don’t give a damn about a man’s religion or racial DNA. I judge a man by his character.” He quickly adds that this applies to women, too.

I put it to Coburn that Scots are clearly more pro-European than others in the UK, and will not stand for it if they are voted out of the EU by England. He’s having none of it and launches into one of many tirades against the SNP.

“Look, I’ve knocked on doors all over and they have the same problems in pebble dash semis in Glasgow and Birmingham,” he laughs. “They’re all virulently anti-EU. This is all dreamed up by the SNP.

“The SNP is supposed to be party of independence but 70 per cent of our laws are made in Brussels. If we had a Brexit, so many powers would come back to Holyrood they wouldn’t know what to do with them. They’d get many more powers coming to Holyrood through Brexit than through the break-up of the UK.

“The SNP aren’t really an independence party, they’re a pro-European party that doesn’t want powers brought back to Scotland. They want Scotland to be a region of the European superstate rather than a nation of the United Kingdom.

“Ukip is the true patriotic party of Scotland. As for Nicola Sturgeon holding a second referendum if there is a Brexit, there’s no way she’s going to win one, it’s as simple as that.”

It’s raining hard and there aren’t many folk out in the high street. Those that are don’t seem terribly interested in engaging in conversation about the merits or otherwise of the EU. Fifteen year-old Charles Gribben is the exception, however. He’s out shopping with his family and makes straight for the Ukip leader to get a selfie.

“I don’t have a vote, but if I did I’d definitely vote to leave the EU,” he says emphatically. “Britain should make its own decisions.” His parents say they haven’t made up their minds yet, but have grave concerns about the EU. Coburn is delighted. “See, the young people are with us,” he says with a wink and a thumbs up. “In Scotland there is a bigger ratio of young people in Ukip. They like our libertarian message. And they don’t like the SNP’s authoritarian ideas; their Named Person policy [a scheme where every child in Scotland is given a state guardian] makes the East German Stasi look mild in comparison.”

Certainly, many of Coburn’s campaign team today are young. The party’s Scottish chairman, the tweed wearing, Land Rover-driving Calum Walker, is only 24 (Is it unfair to mention that his father is one of the Scottish party’s biggest donors?) and Coburn’s PA Colin “Mitch” Mitchelson, is a former soldier in his early thirties from Kirkcaldy, who served in Iraq. The youngest campaigners here today are Rebecca Santos, 18, whose mother Caroline and sister Emily both stood unsuccessfully for the party in the recent Scottish election, and waxed jacket and chino-wearing teenager Sean Cameron from Kirkcaldy. Cameron, also 18, says he and his family used to be Labour supporters, but became disillusioned and moved to Ukip. He believes young people are getting a particularly rough deal in life at the moment, and says many favour Brexit as a means of taking more control. For him, this debate is primarily about sovereignty.

They’ve gathered round a stall in the high street with Grassroots Out – a wider, cross-party movement promoting a Leave vote – but everyone here today is Ukip. Among them is the party's controversial Scottish “fixer”, Arthur “Misty” Thackeray, who had to step down as chairman earlier this year after being charged with making indecent phone calls. In 2014, the owner of a security firm was criticised for a social media post saying Glasgow City Council stood for “gays, Catholics and communists”, while complaining of a “suffocating culture of anti-Loyalism”.

Also here is the aforementioned Caroline Santos, Ukip’s luminary in the Borders. When I approach her to ask about the EU referendum, she backs away melodramatically, saying she won’t be speaking to me because one of my Herald colleagues has previously been “mean” about her. Moments later, however, she changes her tune and launches into a lengthy tirade about “media conspiracies” against her and the “creepy” SNP, saying Scottish schools secretly drip-feed nationalist propaganda to children. To me, there’s a tinge of paranoia to much of Santos’s rhetoric, though it has to be said that both sides of this referendum debate have largely relied on scare tactics and fearmongering.

And no issue has been booted around more by both sides than immigration. No matter which side wins, the historians will write that this was the central issue of the campaign, certainly for the English voters who make up the vast majority of the electorate. Ukip’s Scottish campaign team come from an array of social backgrounds, but all share the view that there are far too many migrants. They talk about huge queues in hospitals and schools struggling to cope. This comes despite many academics and politicians claiming Scotland, with its ageing population, will actually need much more immigration in the coming years – around 500,000, said the Treasury in 2014 – to pay for public services.

I ask Coburn whether he thinks EU migrants are taking jobs from Scots.

“They are,” he replies without hesitation. “There’s a big problem. It’s all right for the middle classes, the MSPs; it’s great for them to have cheap nannies and gardeners and cleaners. But it’s not very lovely for the ordinary working class man trying to get on in the world who finds his job has gone and his wage being compressed because so many people are coming in.

“That’s why you’ll find most Ukip support comes from working class and lower middle class people – not that we believe in class in Ukip. Those people are feeling the pressure and have been let down by the traditional parties.”

Coburn says following a Brexit he wouldn’t ban all immigration, but wants to see a points-based immigration system along Australian lines that would end free movement for EU citizens wanting to come to the UK, saying this would be fairer to all, including those from outside the EU. “Look at the Indians,” he says. “They are tremendous computer programmers. We should let some of them in.”

The Ukip leader says he doesn’t blame people for trying to come to the UK – “if I lived in these countries I’d be an immigrant too” – and thinks European governments, Germany in particular, are responsible for the refugee and migrant crisis.

He is sceptical of use of the word “refugee” to describe the people we see on our television screens trying to cross the Mediterranean, even for those escaping war-torn Syria. “Well, they’ve had to pass through a lot of countries before they get to the UK,” he says. “You’ve got to ask yourself – are they coming to escape, or are they economic migrants? One wonders why they don’t seek asylum in the first place they arrive.” I posit that it’s surely understandable that people who speak good English and already have relatives here will gravitate towards the UK, that the rather black and white nature of much of Ukip’s rhetoric doesn’t allow for much nuance.

But Coburn has already moved on. He’s spotted an elderly gentleman taking a look at the stall. The ever-cheery Ukip frontman loves the old-fashioned business of jousting with ordinary folk, of trying to persuade them to his way of thinking. He can sense a sale and he’s off to give the one-to-one Coburn treatment.

But the elderly man is for Remain. He talks of Europe pulling together after the Second World War, of the rights working people have enjoyed thanks to membership of the EU. Coburn has a challenge on his hands. But if anyone is game, it’s the Ukip frontman.

I’ve got a train to catch, so I leave them to it. It's a shame because I'd happily have had a drink in the pub with him. Some way down the road I can still hear Coburn’s voice booming away. He’s talking about corporatist conspiracies, big government and big business, Greek fascists and Swedish communists. It’s probably not the usual Saturday afternoon chat in Falkirk, but it’s certainly lively. We'll find out which vision of Europe the people of this town, and towns like it in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, ultimately choose to endorse in five days’ time.