“It’s all bollocks!” says UKIP’s David Coburn MEP after finding himself at the centre of the latest political witch hunt; and I’m inclined to agree with him.
The pressure is mounting on Scotland’s only elected ‘Kipper after he compared Scottish Nationalist Humza Yousaf MSP to convicted Islamic terrorist Abu Hamza. Referring to BBC Two’s The Big Immigration Debate, Coburn told a Scottish Mail journalist that “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza, didn’t seem to turn up”.
Unfortunately for David, the conversation wasn’t quite off the record and the “jest” was referred back to Yousaf who, along with the entire Scottish political establishment, went nuts.
For those who haven’t had the questionable pleasure of meeting Scotland’s only UKIP MEP, he was described by British journalist Rod Liddle as “somewhat flamboyant — kilt, sporran, the whole works — and both morbidly obese and very gay”.
David is no stranger to controversy; last year he came under fire for calling the Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, a “fat lesbian” and former Labour leader Johann Lamont a “fish wife”. In response, he claimed “I don’t see the problem. I couldn’t possibly object to anyone calling me a fat poof. It would be entirely accurate.” And, with typical Coburn charm: “Well I’m a fat Scotsman… I don’t recall any of this”. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has not evaded criticism herself, labeled “helmet hairdo” earlier this year.
Such is the nature of David Coburn; he has the outstanding ability to offend without discrimination. When I used to work for UKIP he called me far, far worse and it is telling that the response from UKIP press officer Gawain Towler calmly stated that “if you know David, you know he is that offensive with everyone… He takes the p*** out of everyone. He takes the p*** out of me, he takes the p*** out of Nigel.”
Coburn has apologised for his remarks and admitted that they were in bad taste but the Scots are having none of it; from the media to the entire, cross-party political establishment the reaction is quickly turning from fallacious to farcical. Not content with mass faux outrage, Labour, the SNP and the Scottish Conservatives have united in an unholy alliance against humour.
David’s remarks have been labeled “Islamophobia of the worst kind”, Humza Yousaf has declared himself “utterly appalled, disgusted and hurt”; UKIP has been derided as “rotten to the core” and “pitiful” in its response. The Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy, called the comments “sickening and senseless”.
And then started the calls for action. Humza Yousaf demanded Coburn’s immediate expulsion from the party. Naturally, this was ignored. Next, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran MP wrote to Farage to demand that David be removed from a general election debate in London this evening; “Mr Coburn should have been expelled”, she writes, “I ask that you remove him as the UKIP representative from this debate. Views such as this have no place in Scotland’s national debate.”
And when this, too, was ignored, every single Scottish MEP banded together to write to the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, citing the rise of Islamophobia, Pegida and the English Defence League to condemn David’s remarks on behalf of Scotland’s entire Muslim community and demand that disciplinary action be taken against him.
I cannot be the only person to think this is a dramatic over-reaction that would only happen to a representative of UKIP. Should an offhand, joke of a comment, albeit one not in the best of taste, have the power to appall, disgust and hurt? Are David’s comments really “Islamophobia of the worst kind”, sickening and senseless?
Oh come now. Of course not. And as they say, those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones; the SNP are guilty of grave hypocrisy, just two days ago an SNP candidate downplayed serious incidents of domestic violence while another labeled “No” voters “selfish and gullible”, surely more detrimental than Coburn’s quip and yet barely mentioned by the press.
What I think has riled the Scottish establishment is the fact that the Scottish people ever dared to vote in a UKIP MEP in the first place; even worse, they elected one who is openly gay and therefore doesn’t fit neatly into the straight, white male UKIP stereotype.
What is baffling, is the Labour MP’s insistence that Coburn be removed from tonight’s debate; surely anyone with confidence in their own arguments and an ounce of moral strength would welcome the opportunity to debate with someone whose views they find so distasteful? Regardless, David Coburn will weather this storm in a teacup.