Ukip leader Nigel Farage hits back at 'fascist' hecklers in Edinburgh pub
But he is accused of 'losing the plot' after breaking off an interview on BBC Radio Scotland over 'hatred' in its questioning
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 17 May 2013
Nigel Farage hit back today at demonstrators in Scotland who branded him "racist, Nazi scum" by describing them as "fascist, deeply racist" and "anti-English".
But the leader of the UK Independence Party was accused of "losing the plot" after breaking off an interview on BBC Radio Scotland over the "hatred" in its questioning. It emerged that one man arrested after the anti-Ukip protest is English.
Mr Farage, whose party has no elected representatives in Scotland, ventured north of the border on Thursday but was besieged in an Edinburgh pub when supporters of Scottish independence mounted a protest.
Yesterday he described the demonstrators as "deeply racist with a total hatred of the English and a desire for Scotland to be independent from Westminster". He added: "The fact that 50 yobbo, fascist scum turn up and aren't prepared to listen to debate, I absolutely refuse to believe is representative of Scottish public opinion."
He hung up the phone in the middle of his radio interview after being quizzed about Ukip's knowledge of Scottish politics and its level of support in the country. He said: "We could have had this interview in England a couple of years ago, although I wouldn't have met with such hatred that I'm getting from your questions, and frankly I've had enough of this interview. Goodbye."
A Scottish National Party spokesman said: "Anyone who heard the interview with Nigel Farage would have thought he has completely lost the plot. He accused the BBC of hatred when under pressure and panicked during an interview. Nothing he says can be treated with a shred of credibility."
Lothian and Borders Police said two men were arrested at the protest for alleged assault and breach of the peace. Mike Shaw, president of Edinburgh University Students Association's Socialist Society, tweeted: "Ukip protest yesterday branded as 'anti-English'. As a proud Englishman, arrested yesterday for protesting, I dispute these claims."
Liam O'Hare, a spokesman for the Radical Independence group, said: "Farage's attempts to paint our protest as anti-English is pathetic. Our vision is for a Scotland that welcomes people from across the world, including England. This is the exact opposite of Farage and Ukip's vision for Scotland, which is a parochial, bigoted British nationalism. We're against his racist ideas, not where he comes from."
Ukip's image as a party that appeals more to men than women may be reinforced the views of Demetri Marchessini, a Greek businessman who has given the party £10,000 this year. He believes women should wear skirts rather than trousers and has written on his blog:
"There is a basic fact of life that women do not grasp - skirts give erections, but trousers do not." He suggests that "date rape" allegations "mean nothing", since because there is "no violent act it is difficult to know whether any rape took place". He also describes unmarried mothers as "naughty girls" who should be given a "smack".
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