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Galloway and SNP in Tit-for-Tat Row over Farage Protests

International Business Times UK
George Galloway
George Galloway (l) and Nigel Farage (Reuters).

George Galloway has sympathised with Nigel Farage over his treatment in Edinburgh and condemned First Minister Alex Salmond after an event he described as "pure embarrassment for Scotland".

Speaking exclusively to IBTimes UK, Galloway said Farage's barracking at the hands of a 50-strong mob is "a shape of things to come. It can only cause hatred between English and Scottish people."

Galloway's comments come just weeks after he told IBTimes UK that Farage was a poor man's version of himself, while claiming Ukip followers were "misguided" and, in some cases, racist.

The Respect MP said of the events on Edinburgh's Royal Mile: "I hold no candle for Nigel Farage but if leaders of democratic parties with substantial support are to be driven out of Scotland under police protection, it's not going to be much of an advertisement for visitors and investors.

"The whole event had a very anti-English character, it was very ugly. The language and behaviour of the protesters and the pathetic response of the police, who couldn't even secure a press event held by the third party of the state, doesn't say much for Scotland if it wishes to become independent.

"This kind of roughhouse is only justified against fascist leaders, and Farage is definitely not a fascist."

Turning to Farage's own claim that the protesters were fascists, Galloway continued: "Fascist is not a term you should bandy around lightly but the behaviour of the protesters brought shame on Scotland. Farage represents a lot of people in Britain. I wish it were not so but this is a democracy.

"Who's next? If I hold a meeting in Edinburgh is that going to happen to me just because I don't support Scottish independence?"

"Alex Salmond has to make a clear an unequivocal condemnation of it and he hasn't. He feeds on this acrimony on a national basis, on the basis of a border."

When asked if the SNP, through its silence, has implicity endorsed last night's attack, Galloway said simply "yes".

Farage received widespread criticism for hanging up the phone on BBC Scotland interviewer David Miller, who posed difficult questions about Ukip and its prospects in Scotland.

However, far from criticising his political rival, Galloway defended Farage by saying: "I've often felt like hanging up the phone on BBC Scotland myself."

Salmond reaction

Following Galloway's comments, Salmond issued his own reaction to last night's events.

Referring to Farage and his accusations of a "hate campaign", Salmond said it would be a "great mistake" to take "somebody of that mentality with any degree of seriousness".

He also claimed that "we can frankly do without Ukip" because they "dislike everybody and know absolutely nothing about Scotland."

Refusing to castigate the demonstration, Salmond continues: "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."

READ:

Nigel Farage's BBC Scotland Interview: Full Transcript

Nigel Farage, Ukip and Scottish Protesters: When Nationalisms Collide [BLOG]

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