Coburn: I’d legalise drugs, ban same-sex marriage

MEP David Coburn after the declaration at the City Chambers in Edinburgh. Picture: PA
MEP David Coburn after the declaration at the City Chambers in Edinburgh. Picture: PA
Share this article
Have your say

THE first ever Ukip politician elected in Scotland has declared the party’s “revolution” has spread north of the Border.

David Coburn MEP last night signalled his intention to get heavily involved in the No campaign as he stated that party leader Nigel Farage was as “keen as mustard” to spend more time campaigning in Scotland in the run-up to the referendum.

Ukip is currently without a Scottish leader – although Mr Coburn said he was “sort of running it” as the only elected parliamentarian the party has north of the Border.

The freight firm owner said he would “probably” push for the decriminalisation of drugs, as he compared restrictions on the use of illegal substances to the United States’s prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s.

He said: “On drugs, the criminalisation of it is like alcohol prohibition in Chicago; it breeds crime. My view is that it should be treated as a health problem and I’d probably decriminalise it.”

The anti-European Union politician also stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, despite being openly gay and in a relationship with the same partner for more than 30 years.

He said: “Civil partnerships should be enough. Gay marriage breeds homophobia as people are happy enough to tolerate gay people. I don’t see the point of crossing the road to pick a fight with people of faith.”

In line with his party’s main campaign policy, Mr Coburn also stated that Scotland “can’t have mass open-door immigration”, as he promised to pursue Ukip’s plan to impose new restrictions on migrants to the UK. He said he would use his election to the European Parliament as a platform to promote British withdrawal from the EU as he delivered a speech after his shock victory was confirmed yesterday.

Describing himself as a “libertarian”, Mr Coburn said he wanted businesses to be free of interference from government. He said: “The Ukip revolution has now come to Scotland. I will do my best to make sure I highlight the problems of the European Union. When I’m in Brussels, I will do my best to make sure Scottish business and Scottish people know the daft schemes they’re cooking up there to make our lives infinitely more awkward.

“My second mission will be to make myself redundant. I want to get out of the European Union at the first available opportunity, and that I will do. On the bigger picture, Ukip has done well on the British stage as a whole and the fact that we’re winning in Scotland and got such a good score in Scotland – up to 14 per cent in some areas – is something we’re very proud of.”

Glasgow-born Mr Coburn, whose postal address was declared as being in Kensington, London, said he wanted to work with other unionist parties in the No campaign. The MEP also claimed the surge in Ukip support was due to the SNP government becoming more unpopular after seven years in power, as he promised his party’s leadership would play an active role in the referendum.

Mr Coburn, speaking after his victory speech, said: “I did offer to help keep Scotland in the UK and we should work together. I will talk to anyone. I’ll talk to Tories and I’ll even talk to demoralised SNP people. A lot of people are sick and tired of the SNP. I’d like to thank Alex Salmond for his tremendous help in getting us elected.

“Nigel intends to come up a lot more. He’s as keen as mustard. We’ll be seeing him a lot.”

Mr Coburn went on to say that Ukip’s leadership would now focus more attention on Scotland as he confirmed that he had left London. He said he was looking for a house, but claimed he was worried about rising interest rates and house prices in an independent Scotland.

He said: “I’ve already left Kensington. When I was registered there, I hadn’t got a full-time address in Scotland as I used to stay with my father, who died recently. I’m actually finding a house, but I’m a bit worried about house prices plummeting if there’s a Yes vote.”

Mr Coburn said the 20 Westminster seats Ukip is planning to target at next year’s general election would include constituencies in Scotland, and suggested his party could replace the Tories. He said: “You’re going to see us getting MPs in Scotland. It’s probably sensible to target a lot of the old Conservative constituencies. The Conservative Party is pretty dead in the water, whereas we appeal to the working-class constituency.

“Working people are fed-up. They don’t want the Conservative Party and Labour keeping them in their place.

“A lot of people are sick and tired of the SNP. The man in Easterhouse is worried about mass immigration that will depress his salary. What we need is a new team in Scotland.”

Aberdeen Labour MP Frank Doran claimed Ukip wanted to erode European employment rights and health and safety legislation that benefits workers in the UK. He added: “I hope this all opens up the possibility that Ukip will be roundly beaten in next year’s general election.”

Central Scotland SNP MSP John Wilson added: “There is a danger that Ukip, along with Conservative forces at Westminster, will undermine all the progress that Scotland has made as part of the EU. Any attempt to withdraw from Europe could be at the expense of vital industries.”


Former City trader who is looking to tie up the ‘tired old parties’

SCOTLAND’S first Ukip MEP had stints as an art dealer and City trader before entering politics.

David Coburn, 55, is the Glasgow-born owner of a freight company, who previously stood as a Ukip candidate for the London Assembly.

After high school in Glasgow, Mr Coburn studied law at the University of Leeds – a course he admits to failing.

Openly gay, he describes himself as a “libertarian”, but is opposed to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, saying that it “breeds homophobia” and would be like “crossing the street” to have a fight with people of faith.

Earlier this year, he attracted criticism by saying Glasgow City Council gave the perception that it favoured gays and lesbians.

He says he would “probably” decriminalise drugs, claiming addiction should be treated as a “health problem”.

Mr Coburn ran into controversy surrounding his postal address on the European elections ballot paper, which gives a street in Kensington, west London. However, the businessman turned politician insists that he now lives in Edinburgh.

He caused controversy during the election campaign when he accused Alex Salmond of “sectarian” tactics after the First Minister visited a mosque.

Yesterday, Mr Coburn said Ukip would offer Scottish voters “something different” from the “tired, old” mainstream parties.

Speaking during an interview on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, he said: “We are basically going to give something different. It is not going to be the same arguments you get from all the tired old parties.

“All of the Scottish parties agree with each other, more or less, it is a left-wing agenda and now we are going to see something different

“We are going to see a libertarian agenda, which I will be pushing as hard as possible.”

Mr Coburn has previously called for Scots living outside of Scotland to have a vote in September’s independence referendum.


Peter Jones: Right turn threatens existence of EU

Leaders: Time to accept Ukip may have struck chord

Analysis: Farage and Ukip throw a spanner in works

Scottish European election 2014 results

Comment:Ukip result not general election predictor

David Torrance: Ukip catch SNP by surprise

Graph: Ukip European election vote by Scottish council area