Saturday, May 10, 2014

Roughly 300 protesters turned up yesterday for the return of Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, to Edinburgh after last year’s disastrous attempt at a press conference in a pub at the foot of The Canongate. Unseen by protesters or public, Farage is believed to have left the venue around 7:30pm.

Farage’s last visit saw protesters leaving him barracked in the bar by police, with several taxis refusing to take the party leader and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for South East England to the airport.

Given the hostile reception on his last visit, far-right group Britain First garnered publicity earlier in the week with an apparent offer of “armoured vehicles” for Farage’s visit. However, no support from ex-BNP councillor Paul Golding’s political party, or the offered armoured vehicles, were in-evidence.

Despite attempts to keep the location secret, the Radical Independence Campaign began calling for protesters to turn up on Friday, at the city’s Corn Exchange, nearly a week before the event. Farage was already believed to be inside the building when Wikinews arrived shortly after 4:30pm. At that time, five satellite trucks were present and New Market Road, running past the venue, was still open to traffic.

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Protesters began arriving en-masse closer to 5:30pm, with numbers peaking around an hour later. Police vans were moved to block the road; although, traffic to the venue was still being permitted for a wedding party with the misfortune to pick the same date as Farage’s only visit to Scotland during the current European Parliament election campaign.

Several speakers addressed the crowd protesting against UKIP being in Scotland, with the actual number of UKIP attendees inside, to hear Farage speak, estimated at around 50. One speaker, a schoolteacher, challenged the mainstream media’s acceptance of UKIP’s assertion the party is not racist, stating her primary school pupils were more-capable of identifying racism and would be pointing its presence out within UKIP were they present.

Although loud, the protest passed peacefully. Chants directed at UKIP included “Whose streets? Our streets! Whose city? Our city!”, “Say it loud, say it clear: Refugees are welcome here!” Other taunts called UKIP “scum”, urged people to “smash the SDL” (Scottish Defence League), and clearly labelled UKIP and its supporters as racist.