Controversial UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s return north of the border suffered a major set back before he even touched down on Scottish soil yesterday – after it was revealed a party campaign letter was sent to the home of the late MSP Brian Adam.
The death of the SNP politician from cancer triggered the Aberdeen Donside by-election, which takes place in the city on Thursday.
Mr Farage was in the Granite City to join the campaign trail supporting his own candidate, Otto Inglis, as it emerged UKIP party officials had mistakenly sent campaign material to Mr Adam’s home.
A statement released by the Adam family said: “This shows how little UKIP know or care about the people of Aberdeen Donside.
“In an already difficult week for the family, during which we will be reminded of our father as his replacement is elected, it is hurtful that UKIP could be so insensitive - although it does seem to mirror the image they portray.”
Mark McDonald, SNP candidate for Aberdeen Donside, added: “This indicates that UKIP are as out of touch with Aberdeen as they are offensive.”
However, the UKIP party said it had been an innocent mistake and there had been no intention to cause any offence.
And UKIP candidate Otto Inglis said he would personally apologise to the family as soon as possible, saying: “There was absolutely no intention to offend the family, and we very much regret it.”
Apart from a brief appearance on BBC debate show Question Time last week, this was Farage’s first venture north of the border following his visit to Edinburgh where he had to leave a pub in a police riot van after being targeted by anti-racism protesters.
At a press conference in Aberdeen, he swapped his normal pint to enjoy a coffee at the Fourmile House Hotel, which had been a hastily arranged location switch aimed at avoiding more protesters.
He said: “We are trying to have the conversation today, that we wanted to have in Edinburgh, when we were ever so slightly interrupted.
“I won’t be threatened off by a bunch of yobs. They told me that I was English, had no business in Scotland and that I should do different things with the Union Jack.
“It was not the way I wanted to spend an afternoon. I don’t believe that these students are representative of Scotland.
“I was extremely disappointed at the way Alex Salmond responded to the events in Edinburgh.
“The word independence is one owned by Alex Salmond. Scotland is not being offered a choice in this referendum, which is being held under totally false premises.
“It’s not an independence referendum. There is a majority of Scottish people who do not want to be part of the EU and Alex Salmond is just swapping one master for another.”
The UKIP leader then insisted his party was relevant in Scotland.
He said: “On fishing rights, on wind farms and of course on the constitutional issues, UKIP has a clear and distinct position, one which we discover is getting an ever larger audience.”
“We got one per cent of the vote in 2011 and we were not part of the debate back then. We will make significant progress on Thursday.
“UKIP’s share of the vote has been rising consistently. With Otto as a candidate we have for the first time mounted a campaign in Scotland.
“I’m not going to make stupid predictions, but if we get less than one per cent I’m going to eat my hat.”
Last month, he was targeted by anti-racism protesters as he attempted to host a press conference promoting Mr Inglis in The Canons Gait pub on the Royal Mile, near Holyrood in Edinburgh.
As Mr Farage tried to leave, protesters blocked his path and he was forced to return to the pub, only managing to leave later when a police riot van came to his aid.
He made an appearance on BBC’s Question Time when it was hosted in Edinburgh last Thursday.