UKIP leader Nigel Farage says he is the only political leader who can challenge Alex Salmond, despite his controversial campaign visit to Scotland last month.
Mr Farage needed a police escort to escape a mob of pro-independence protesters in the Royal Mile during his first foray north of the Border. They were branded “fascist scum” by Mr Farage.
The First Minister refused to condemn the protesters and instead attacked the Ukip leader for his trip north to launch the party’s Aberdeen Donside by-election campaign.
Mr Farage accepted that the SNP leader is “great campaigner and big personality”. But he added: “He has been faced by an absolute dearth of talent in Scotland. He practically has no opposition. That’s why he didn’t like me coming up. I rattled him.”
Ukip, with its core policy of withdrawal from Europe, could become the third force in politics south of the Border after a stunning show in the local government elections. The party is now well ahead of the Lib Dems in opinion polls.
The First Minister’s failure to condemn the mob of protesters was branded “really really poor” by Mr Farage.
“I’ve had piles of letters from Scots saying they were disgusted by the mob’s behaviour,” he said. “The real downside is there is a view in England that unruly lot is what it’s really like in Scotland.”