Ukip’s rise makes Yes/No choice clearer

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I nearly choked on my cornflakes on hearing that Ukip had become the first party to break the Conservative/
Labour duopoly on the European elections for 100 years.

My immediate reaction is that if this doesn’t make people consider voting Yes in September’s referendum, I’m not sure what will.

The results highlight the increasing divergence in political terms between middle Scotland and middle England.

As usual, more than 70 per cent of Scotland’s voters opted for centre/left, pro-European parties. In stark contrast, the majority of voters in England chose the Tories, Ukip and those parties even further to the right.

Can anyone today claim – with a straight face – that independence would pose a bigger risk to Scotland’s position in the EU than being in the UK?
Furthermore, as Ukip leader Nigel Farage himself points out, the biggest impact of his party’s victory will be in terms of setting the agenda for the next UK general election.

Like it or not, both Labour and the Conservatives will have to prioritise strategies to fend off the Ukip challenge. Expect promises of EU referenda, caps on immigration, reduced ambition to tackle climate change and such like – none of which is in Scotland’s interests, and none of which is reflective of Scottish voting patterns.

If voters in other parts of the UK are moving even further along a road of conservative, insular politics, I find that regrettable, but ultimately it is their democratic choice.

In Scotland, however, we have another democratic choice this September; one that offers us a mechanism to ensure that Scotland’s choice of government is in its own hands, rather than being at the mercy of others. This week, that option surely looks more attractive than ever.

C Hegarty

Glenorchy Road

North Berwick

Congratulations are due to Ukip for its great results, including a seat in Scotland. Commiserations are not due to the Liberal Democrats for betraying their voters when they threw in their lot with the Tories.

The Lib Dems have taken pounding after pounding and are now all but dead in the water. On Monday they claimed that after the local and Euro elections they will have some support return for the next general election and will not be so badly mauled.

This is no doubt true to some extent, but remember that they were riding high in 2010 and still lost five seats in the Westminster elections.

Better Together should now think about having a burst of honesty. Ukip must be invited to join the unionist campaign. It is a party with an embracing United Kingdom philosophy, having high support and representation across the UK at some level or other.

It is deceiving the Scottish electorate to pretend that the present Better Together triad is some sort of cosy representation of British values when it clearly is not.

If it is not to be seen as just another South England loyalist party, Ukip, with its Scottish MEP from a London address, must demand a place among fellow unionists in Better Together.

If three is a magic number, the Tories and their Labour partners should think about kicking out the empty husk of liberalism and replacing it with Ukip. That would be replacing brittle with British. The triad won’t do this, of course – it doesn’t want us to see the true and unpretty face of British politics.

Thomas Burgess

St Catherine’s Square

Perth

Scotland has always been seen by the world as an open, welcoming country (although if visiting Edinburgh households, it is better to have eaten first).

Its proud inhabitants might have somewhat quirky accents but they usually respond with generosity.

And yet last Thursday, despite having a wide spectrum of political parties, more than one in ten of those who voted found it necessary to vote for parties like Britain First, the BNP and Ukip – parties whose manifestos make it clear that tanks are more important than teachers, guns before GPs and carriers before carers. Parties who no longer extend the hand of welcome to others.

Today the white of the Saltire seems a little grubby.

Bruce D Skivington

Strath

Gairloch, Wester Ross

So the SNP fails to get a third seat, the wishy-washy soft-touch Liberals lose their seat and Ukip takes a seat!

Now that’s what I call a good result and one up for all those who, 40 years ago, never voted for the mess in which Europe – and as a result – the UK 
now finds itself over so many issues.

Michael Hogg

Craigfoot Walk

Kirkcaldy

There will be much introspection by all the political parties following the results of the European elections, not least the Liberal Democrats after the loss of their only MEP in Scotland.

The SNP, in spite of being the governing party here, still hoped to increase its number of MEPs from two to three and at the same time stop Ukip from gaining a foothold in Scotland, but neither objective was achieved.

The Labour and Conservative parties in Scotland will ironically be thankful that Ukip did not make progress here comparable to that made in England.

Although Ukip has narrowly managed to win representation in Scotland, fourth place and around 10 per cent of the vote is a political irrelevance when compared with first place and around 30 per cent for the UK as a whole.

In other words, in spite of the recent spotlight shone on Ukip by much of the British media, there clearly is considerably more appetite for its brand of right-wing politics in England than in Scotland.

Behind closed doors the Conservatives may smile at the prospect of a 2015 Westminster election with the threat of an outright Labour victory apparently thwarted – and the knowledge that a deal could be done with Ukip, if necessary, to retain power.

So where does this leave 
the Labour Party and Better Together?

Those Labour supporters who until now had not seen through control of their party from London and appreciated that independence was the only realistic path for Scotland to achieve a fairer and more egalitarian society may finally be awakened from their slumbers.

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry

East Lothian

In the light of the European election results, stark political realities face the Yes campaigners in the independence referendum campaign.

One is the pattern of by-election results since last October which show clearly an almost two-to-one majority for the Unionist parties. The second is the success of Ukip in gaining a seat in Scotland despite claims its outlook and approach are alien up here.

David Torrance (Analysis, 26 May) makes a fair point: in some ways political preferences and trends north of the Border are not so different from the South. But I suspect the success of Nigel Farage and his colleagues is not simply down to support for withdrawal from the EU or even stronger immigration controls.

Its breakthrough was due partly to a plea for novelty, against the sanitised rhetoric of mainstream party spokesmen, for more plain speaking and greater emphasis on delivering what was promised.

Ukip energised its latent support in a way that took the normally competent SNP machine by surprise. The governing party at Holyrood must be wondering how it failed to energise its own support and win over the waverers needed to deliver it a third seat in the European parliament.

Its failure to do so may yet come to be seen as the point when the prospect of a Yes victory in September withered on the vine.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes

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