Max Crema, Vice-President Services of Edinburgh University Students’ Association and NCAFC secretariat
This article was originally posted to Scotspolitics.com and cross-posted with the author’s consent.
In the tightly controlled and pre-tested world of politics it’s not often that an event occurs which doesn’t fit into a narrative. A company will go bust and left-leaning papers will decry deregulation while their counterparts demand more. A speech will occur, a bill will be passed, a by-election will be won and you can easily predict the media packaging and allegiance for each event.
However, sometimes the narrative doesn’t fit.
After countless stories claiming a swelling rise in the popularity of UKIP, London’s fourth estate received a shock yesterday when suddenly the politics of the rest of the UK were forced onto their radar. While UKIP may well be the talk of the table at many home county dinner parties, the press suddenly found themselves confronted with a spectacle (and let’s be honest – a damn fine piece of political theatre at that) which didn’t match the UKIP triumphalism being trumpeted in my morning paper.
In the initial hours following the protest news reports were couched in uncertain and guarded terms. Reports almost appeared to be a fair reflection of the events which took place. However, it wasn’t long before sides were picked and narratives were found to explain this spectacle. Websites were updated and the protest became a mob, anti-racism protesters became Scottish nationalists, and cheerful jeering became violence while on the opposite side of the spectrum reports were produced which romanticised the protest to such a point that I wondered if it was the same protest I had attended only a few hours before.
The story is actually quite simple.
It was a group of (maybe 20) students who started it. We had been tipped off that Nigel had flown up for a press conference in a pub and decided to go down and see what all the fuss was about. We entered the press conference in a pub and began politely asking Nigel questions about his party’s racist history and policies. The Bar staff offered us chips. After roughly 20 minutes of Nigel ignoring our questions and speaking only to reporters frustration grew and some chanting and or heckling may have started.
Eventually, all of us get asked to leave the pub by the staff, “you too Mr. Farage”, (apparently he didn’t bother asking the pub’s staff for permission to use their pub for a press conference) and so Nigel goes outside to be greeted by an angry protest against UKIP and their policies.
This is where it gets good.
Nigel then attempted to hold another press conference across from the pub in which he faced a similar level of disruption. Realising that the conference was a lost cause he then attempted to hail a cab. The first’s driver slowed down, but upon recognising him refused to unlock his doors and drove off again. The second allowed Nigel into the cab but upon realising his identity refused to accept Nigel’s fare and wouldn’t move until he had left the cab.
At this point the police escorting Nigel decided to return to the pub they had just been kicked out of. Finally, Nigel had to wait for the police to bring a van up alongside the pub for him to be driven away in in what must have been the most ignominious end to a political visit to Scotland in living memory.
I’m proud of the folks who came out today to protest against UKIP’s xenophobic, racist, and homophobic views. I think we made it pretty clear that he’s not welcome in Scotland, not welcome anywhere!