17 May 2013

Farage in racism row after protesters trap him in pub

Ukip leader Nigel Farage compares parts of the Scottish nationalism campaign to fascism after police rescued him from a pub surrounded by angry protesters calling him “racist Nazi scum”.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage likes to conduct his political campaigns in pubs, preferably pint in hand. It has been a successful strategy so far – winning over the electorate and newspaper columnists alike.

But it went rather wrong on Thursday in Edinburgh, where Mr Farage is supporting Ukip’s candidate in the Aberdeen Donside by-election, Otto Inglis.

As Mr Farage attempted to speak to reporters in the Canons’ Gait pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, he was drowned out by protesters chanting “racist scum”. The situation got so rowdy that, when Mr Farage attempted to leave, he was quickly bundled back into the bar and only escaped a little later with the help of police officers and a riot van.

But Mr Farage is not one to take this kind of thing lying down. He has hit back at the protesters this morning, turning their chants back on them.

Speaking about the incident on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland Programme, he said: “The idea that Ukip is some kind of horrible, nasty, anti-immigrant, racist party is not something that was evident to the rest of the country, but of course that wasn’t what it was all about.

“It was a demonstration dressed up as being anti-racism but in fact in itself was deeply racist, with a total hatred of the English and a desire for Scotland to be independent from Westminster. I mean, my goodness me, if this is the face of Scottish nationalism it’s a pretty ugly picture.

I mean, my goodness me, if this is the face of Scottish nationalism it’s a pretty ugly picture. Nigel Farage

“The anger, the snarling, the shouting, the swearing was all linked in to a desire for the Union Jack to be burnt and extinguished from Scotland forever. There’s absolutely no doubt who these people were or what they stood for.”

He added: “I must say I have heard before that there are some parts of Scottish nationalism that are akin to fascism but yesterday I saw that face-to-face.

“Either the Scottish media have got to start reporting the truth about some of the extremes of the independence movement or not, but it’s about time they did.”

However, the protesters themselves disagreed about their motives, instead pointing to Ukip’s policies on immigration and the economy. Rachel, a young woman in a wheelchair who joined the protest to block Farage’s taxi, said: “Ukip are just b*******.”

Two men were arrested after the protest, which was condemned by the pro-independence group Yes Scotland.

Mr Farage also challenged the Scottish National Party’s leader Alex Salmond to criticise the protesters’ behaviour. But an SNP spokesman said: “Anyone who heard the interview with Nigel Farage on the BBC this morning would have thought he has completely lost the plot.”