UKIP in Scotland: It's a slow burn but it's progress

UKIP in Scotland: It's a slow burn but it's progress

by Nigel Farage
article from Wednesday 26, June, 2013

WE MIGHT have scored a low percentage but in terms of progress, Aberdeen Donside was our best campaign to date in Scotland. An outsider looking in might wonder why a party which does well South of the border is struggling to keep its deposit in Scotland but the real debate which has made UKIP such a relevance in English, Welsh and Northern Irish politics is only just sneaking into Scottish politics.

I went to campaign with our excellent candidate Otto Inglis twice and during that time was subject to the kind of anti-democratic behaviour which makes people wonder why they fought for free speech. But the louts hurling insults and fizzy drinks weren't really protesting at UKIP's policies per se; they were really angry that the EU debate was given any voice at all after years of the SNP leading the sermons that 'Scotland's future is in the EU.'

Canvassing in Aberdeen was like canvassing in England ten years ago with the response I received on the doorstep. It wasn't angry or aggressive as the SNP and Radical Independence would like to think; it was interested, quizzical and wondering why much of what they were hearing was being ignored by the other parties. Issues like the SNP position on independence blurred into concerns over just what to do about the Haudegain roundabout and the lack of transport, to issues with a local travellers’ camp – and of course many SNP supporters were increasingly sceptical of Salmond while still supporting the SNP for now.

Many were very interested and were keen for a fresh start. Almost 5 per cent from a standing start was a considerable achievement particularly when you consider that we outpolled the Greens 3 to 1. I wonder if the SNP will continue berating Question Time after that performance?

It was only a few months ago that Salmond and his fellow plastic Independence crew had to acknowledge the role of the EU on the future of Scotland at all when Mr Barroso brought into the independence debate the possibility of Scotland having to reapply to join the EU. The europhile SNP had assumed, at least publicly, that despite the original application to join the EU being done by the United Kingdom, his desire to break up the UK would not have any legal implications on international arrangements.

Barroso's statement was unpleasant news for the SNP which for years has suppressed debate on the EU and where Scotland's real future lies. And it's a debate which no one has dared to bring into the political mainstream and take up the arguments with Salmond and his colleagues. Real issues like excessive regulation and membership fees hindering economic recovery, immigration and the impact on public services or the greater role the EU are taking over defence policy.

Because the real significance of Scotland breaking away from England, Wales and Northern Ireland and reapplying to join the EU as an independent country would be the very great possibility of joining the Euro. It's the deal that all countries since 2004 have had to agree to: sign up to our club late in the day and you sign up to all of it. It's why Eastern European countries have given up their own monetary independence and joined the doomed project despite the cataclysmic effects it has had on other countries in the eurozone like Greece, Portugal and Cyprus. It was a legal obligation not a choice by an informed population which led Poland to give up the Zloty for a currency which is destined for disaster.

And where is the bargaining tool for Salmond in wanting Scotland to be different? He's hardly likely to tell the EU that it's his way or the people of Scotland will remain outside the EU! (Although the flood of inward investment and the huge growth in businesses would be a sure side effect if he did ever take that line!) The EU knows that the SNP is chained to Brussels, willing to ignore the huge contradiction that an 'Independent' Scotland which is a member of the EU would be.

But the practical realities of Independence have never been one of the First Minister's favourite topics. With sums that don't add up and bizarre statements about wanting to maintain welfare payments from Westminster, open borders and  passports, how can the people of Scotland trust the financial policies of a man who hasn't quite worked out what currency he wants to, or may have to, have? How can he know what the bills will be when he doesn't know what he will pay them in?

As the debate picks up and the people of Scotland realise how great a role the EU plays in their life and will do so even more if they vote YES next year, the positive reception to UKIP will increase.

It is only a few years ago when saving a deposit in an English by election was seen as a significant victory for UKIP. Now we are chasing down the leaders, hindered from that top spot by the postal voting system which bypasses a fair political campaign.

From here on in Scotland is a place which UKIP will continue to grow in. We will not allow this false debate on independence to continue just as we will not give into the nationalist thugs whose fear of real debate leads them to violence.

 

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