Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has brushed aside calls by Nigel Farage for him to condemn protesters who forced the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader to flee a pub in Edinburgh yesterday.
Nigel Farage, who eventually left the scene by police escort, has described the protesters as a “hate mob” that was “filled with total and utter hatred of the English” and challenged Mr Salmond to “condemn this sort of behaviour”.
In response, the Scottish National Party leader said: “If there’s been any law-breaking – and that’s yet to be established – then obviously we condemn that, …but you’ve got to get things into context. A student demonstration ain’t the Dreyfus trial,” he continued in reference to the victimisation of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French army captain who was wrongly convicted of treason in 1894.
“We can frankly do without UKIP – who dislike everybody and know absolutely nothing about Scotland,” the SNP leader added.
Talking to the BBC, the first minister continued his attack saying: “This is the man who doesn’t like getting challenged because when the obnoxious views of his party are put to him then his bubble deflates very quickly and that is what we saw in his panicky interview [to BBC Scotland] this morning.”
Mr Farage had abruptly ended an interview on BBC Scotland earlier in the day when presenter David Miller suggested UKIP is not part of the Scottish political debate and that Mr Farage knows “very little about Scotland.”
“I’m sensing similar hatred from this line of questioning that I got on the streets yesterday… Frankly I have had enough of this interview. Goodbye,” said the UKIP leader.
Mr Farage has stated very clearly that this protest highlights the anti-English feeling in extreme Scottish nationalism. Both Labour and Tory politicians have offered some support, expressing their own concerns about anti-English feeling in Scotland.
The last Tory Scottish secretary, Lord Forsyth, said the protest showed the unpleasant side of some Scottish nationalists and Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, the former Labour Scotland minister, said: “There is an element of anti-English sentiment and there is a fairly nasty side to a few on the periphery of the nationalist movement – not in the mainstream.”
Lord Foulkes did, however, criticise Mr Farage, saying he had failed to properly prepare for his visit to Scotland, likening him to “a bull in a china shop … [who] has just come into Scottish politics with flat feet and muddied the water.”