We are growing in Scotland and have every intention of winning seats both at Holyrood and in next year’s European Elections in Scotland, writes UKIP Leader Nigel Farage.
• I’m looking forward to coming to Edinburgh this week. Maybe I’ll stand Alex Salmond a drink just to explain how UKIP is relevant to Scottish politics and how things are changing North of the border, just as they have to its South.
We’ll be announcing our Aberdeen Don candidate on Tuesday [May, 14 - see here] and we are aiming to talk, not to the rump of Scottish Tories as he thinks, but specifically and deliberately at those he thinks are his voters. Patriotic Scots are tired of his dissembling over Scotland and Europe.
UKIP is nothing if it isn’t a national party. The clue of course is in the name. But if you ask almost anyone in the party the key letter isn’t the UK, important though that is, it is the I. Independence, from Brussels yes, but also from Westminster, from Holyrood and further, from the town and city halls that so bedevil life and set bounds to those things we can and cannot do.
What we believe in is that the best people to decide on how to live their lives are the people themselves.
Since the local elections in England (and Angelsey) the ‘Yes’ to independence lobby have been getting into quite a froth in the columns and broadcast studios of Scotland. ‘Look’, they say, ‘UKIP are getting 25% across England, imagine how ghastly that is’. In Angelsey we didn’t score so highly, but it is noticeable that even there we beat both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. UKIP it must be remembered also have a member of the Stormont Assembly and we hold one of the European MEP seats in Wales so the thrust of the argument, the hoary old cry of ‘Little Englanders’ and stick our fingers in our ears, just doesn’t wash. We are growing here in Scotland and have every intention of winning seats both at Holyrood and in next year’s European Elections in Scotland.
A fantasy? Not in the slightest. What are the three key things that have driven UKIP up the polls in the last 12 months? What is it that has caused our membership to soar, in Scotland as much as in the rest of the country? Firstly, an intense dissatisfaction with the political class, a professional sect of dull dry men and women more interested in their own games than the people they are supposed to represent. This is as true of Holyrood as it is of Westminster.
With a few stand out exceptions the establishment in Edinburgh is an interchangeable professional class divorced from reality and living within a bubble of entitlement and bloated subsidy. They spend their time worrying about minimum alcohol prices and windfarms. They are not like their electorate, other than they eat and sleep, but in their case it is food in taxpayer supported cafeterias, and sleep without the worry of where to find the next meal to put on the table or coin to put in the meter.
Then of course there is the issue of migration. Not as big an issue in Scotland as it is in England according to the polls. Again this is true and has led the establishment parties in Scotland to refuse to even address it, so much so that the Scottish administration haven’t even commissioned a study into attitudes on immigration for years if ever. Even so when you look at the figures produced by Ipsos Mori into attitudes across the country, it is still one of the key issues that people worry about, with 56% of Scots thinking it has gone too far with only 22% thinking that current levels are fine.
That is 56% of Scots whose voices are entirely absent in the polished pine and brushed steel corridors of the Scottish Parliament. In council schemes across the central belt there is huge disquiet and as unemployment rises there is a growing concern that opening the borders to two very poor countries in Eastern Europe, Bulgaria and Romania, will make finding work even harder than it is today. It will put pressure on housing and schools, and it will continue the downward pressure on wages. This is as true in Govanhill as it is in Gainsborough.
Then there is the issue of Independence. I’ve noticed, as have the pollsters, that the drive to Independence is faltering. Even amongst the SNP grassroots most agree with UKIP that our relationship with the EU is bigger than the internal arrangement within the UK. If I were a Yes partisan I wouldn’t want to be governed by Westminster or Brussels. And Mr Barroso rather let the cat out of the bag: an independent Scotland would not automatically be a member of the EU. It wouldn’t automatically be a recipient of generous regional funding, and if then it were to be accepted into the European family it would have to sign up to join the Euro, not something that I would imagine fills the hearts with joy and anticipation.
If Scotland were to take the route of Iceland and be truly independent then there it would make logical sense. Not something that I would welcome, but it isn’t up to me - but to clamour for Independence in Europe seems pretty thin gruel, especially when as David Wallace pointed out in the chamber 82% of laws passed through Holyrood originate not in Scotland, but in Brussels. If Independence is really what the people of Scotland want, then deal with the UK’s subservience to the EU first, and then have a look at how it works. Otherwise it’s merely changing cells in a constitutional Barlinnie.
What we offer Scotland is a variety of things, we are not consumed by the madness that is climate change policy, a policy that enriches a few choice landlords through renewable subsidies while despoiling the beauty of Scotland’s hills and glens. It drives up the cost of energy so that pensioners freeze and die unnecessarily and business is hampered by high prices driving out investment and costing jobs and growth.
We would oppose the dash for wind that meant, only last week Scotland’s windfarmers received payouts of taxpayer’s millions for turning the damned things off in high wind. UKIP councillors and MSPs will oppose this damaging costly experiment and put Scotland’s energy future on a sensible sustainable footing. We will offer binding local referenda on matters of local contention, trusting the people themselves to decide what happens in their own locality rather than distant town halls and strategic plans written by consultants and taken as gospel by a substandard political elite.
In the end it is about trust. Trusting the people to decide what is good for them rather than the vested interests that govern them now. It is about stripping the red tape that chokes Scotland’s enterprise. It is about bringing Scotland’s education system back to its position of honour in the world. It is about freeing its people from the dead hand of Brussels, and about it standing proud, within the family that is Great Britain.
This article was first published in the Scottish Mail on Sunday on 12th May 2013