Pete Cannell reports:
Farage’s public meeting in Edinburgh last night was intended as more than just another publicity stunt. Until this year’s elections UKIP’s impact in Scotland has been minimal. Just a year ago Farage had to run from Edinburgh, unable to find a taxi that would take him to the station. Recent polls, however, are showing UKIP at 10% and above. This would give them a seat in the European Parliament from the Scotland list.
In the event the meeting took place behind a cordon of UKIP bouncers and police and was attended by just a handful of UKIP supporters. Many of them had to wait outside where over 300 anti-racists were assembled. The protest, called by the Radical Independence Campaign and UAF, was diverse, vibrant and very loud.
Media coverage of the event did highlight the fact that the fascist Britain Group was offering armoured cars and a squad of ex-soldiers to protect Farage. What most of the mainstream media missed, however, was the presence of 8 – 10 Nazis on the fringes of the protest. After a half-hearted attempt to get in to the meeting they were pushed away by the protesters.
UKIP’s false appeal as outsiders from the mainstream parties has limited resonance in Scotland. Here, the referendum has sparked a genuine and growing grass roots debate around an alternative and more radical politics. However, Better Together, the campaign for a No vote, while inept and negative, is well financed and plays into many of the themes that UKIP thrives on. UKIP’s rise in the polls shows that there is still a lot to be done to take the radical arguments for independence out beyond the traditional left.