Nigel Farage, the anti-European Union United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader, found himself in retreat on Thursday evening as dozens of protesters hounded him out of central Edinburgh.
Farage was finally whisked away in a police riot van under a tirade of abuse from a crowd of about 50 young demonstrators – students, anti-racist campaigners and activists in the 'Radical Independence' movement – after being forced to retreat not once, twice or three times, but four times. Farage was first forced out of the Canon's Gait pub on the Royal Mile after the landlord took fright as the demonstrators disrupted his casual press conference with shouts of "racist", "scum" and "homophobe".
Out on the street, as the fingers pointed and taunts escalated, he was rejected by one taxi and turfed out of a second. Then, finally, the harassed and ill-prepared handful of officers were forced to push him back into the Canon's Gait, slamming its front doors shut, as the demonstrators chanted: "Nigel, you're a bawbag, Nigel you're a bawbag, na, na, na, hey!" with gusto.
The etched sign above the Canon Gait's door read: "Enjoy your visit."
With further verses of "Ukip scum, off our streets" echoing in his ears, Farage was bustled into a police van under the glare of television camera lights. After gamely attempting to argue back, trying to hit back at the repeated accusations of racism and homophobia with protests of innocence, Farage finally had to admit his surprise.
"We've never, ever, ever had this kind of response. Is this a kind of anti-English thing? It could be," he said to a reporter. It wasn't. Not entirely. The protesters disagreed. Many said they were there to protest at Ukip's stance on immigration and the political backgrounds of Ukip's motley collection of local council candidates; others were there to protest against his party's obscure economic policies.
There was no violence, no punches thrown, no missiles lobbed. Rachel, a young woman in a wheelchair who had wheeled herself on to the Royal Mile to blockade the second taxi Farage tried to take, said simply: "Ukip are just bullshit."
Some were independence campaigners there to remind him of his nationality: after one, standing just a few feet from Farage, invited the Ukip leader to "shove your union jack up your arse", a flustered Farage said: "Clearly this is anti-British, anti-English. They even hate the union jack."
Farage had arrived at the Canon's Gait in buoyant mood, planning for his long-denied breakthrough into Scottish politics. Compared to the near-25% support in the English local elections, the highest his party has ever polled in Scotland is 5.2% in the 2009 European elections; in many others, Ukip support rests at under 1%.
The latest Ipsos Mori opinion poll, published in early May, found that just two Scots out of 1,001 would vote Ukip. He was hoping for a quiet, convivial briefing – hopefully with pint in hand – with the Scottish political press corps. This was to be the official launch of Ukip's campaign for the Holyrood parliamentary seat of Aberdeen Donside – a seat held very comfortably by the Scottish National party. "We've proved we can get votes in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, We're still untested in Scotland," he said.
"We've not had an opportunity to test Ukip policies with the Scottish people for a very long time." Asked about Ukip's chances, he was optimistic. "I wouldn't be at all surprised if we did quite creditably."
Less than 30 minutes after speaking those words, the MEP for South-East Counties was sitting hunched on the rear seat of a police riot van being driven off at speed, his plans to introduce Otto Inglis, Ukip's ever hopeful candidate for the Scottish parliament byelection on 20 June, forgotten.
Farage calls Scottish activist protesters ‘fascist scum’
Mr Farage had to be escorted from the Canons' Gait pub in a police van after angry confrontations on Thursday.
He told BBC Scotland the incident was deeply racist and displayed a total hatred of the English.
Mr Farage called on Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond to condemn the behaviour. The SNP said the UKIP leader had "lost the plot".
Mr Farage hung up during a telephone interview with the Good Morning Scotland programme on BBC Radio Scotland after being pressed about his lack of knowledge of Scottish politics and the low level of support for his party north of the border.
He later described the interview as "insulting".
Listen to it here and decide for yourself:
First Minister Alex Salmond said that Mr Farage's accusation of a "hate campaign" from the BBC during the radio interview showed it would be a "great mistake" to take "somebody of that mentality with any degree of seriousness".
Mr Salmond added: "We can frankly do without UKIP, who dislike everybody and know absolutely nothing about Scotland."
When asked if he condemned the demonstration against Mr Farage, the first minister said: "If there's been any law-breaking - and that's yet to be established - then obviously we condemn that, as we always do in Scotland, but you've got to get things into context.
"A student demonstration isn't the Dreyfus trial."
He should accept reality and declare himself an 'English nationalist' which is precisely what he is. @engyesscotland@nigel_farage
— Joe Middleton (@freescotlandnow) May 18, 2013
Nigel Farage's Scottish hounding was an antidote to fawning media treatment | Mike Small gu.com/p/3gva8/tw via @guardian
— Morna Simpson (@girlgeeks) May 18, 2013
UKIP have always been out of touch and patronising towards Scotland as I found when I spoke with a UKIP Euro MP on the radio after the SNP's first election victory in the Scottish parliament (see post below this) - JM.