UKIP will attempt to capitalise on the Syrian refugee crisis to give the party a boost at May's Holyrood election, its Scottish leader has said.
David Coburn MEP, who lost his deposit when he stood in the Falkirk constituency in last year's general election, told BuzzFeed News that the refugee crisis, coupled with the upcoming EU referendum, has handed his party a "deserved" advantage for the campaign period, which begins in March.
"What [the refugee crisis] does is it highlights the problem," said Coburn. "It's the chickens coming home to roost – the things UKIP have been banging on about for years have finally been made manifest.
"It's embarrassing for everyone else who is pro open-door immigration. They're trying their best to close down discussion by saying 'Oooh, you're a racist', but it's economics – how many people can we afford to have in the country and still have a National Health Service?"
Coburn is due to launch UKIP Scotland's election push at an event with leader Nigel Farage next month before embarking on a tour of the country. He said the campaign message will allude to recent headlines about the New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany and "all the troubles they're having in Paris".
"Because of that and many other things, people are telling me they'll vote for us – it highlights all the problems we've been talking about," said Coburn. "The SNP want to change the nature of Scottish society, but people want to come here because it's peaceful and quiet.
"We don't want the religious problems of the Middle East in Britain or Scotland."
The party also believes that the EU referendum, highly likely to be held this year, will hand UKIP a disproportionate level of TV coverage for the Holyrood election.
Broadcast regulator Ofcom has handed UKIP "minor party" status in Scotland, alongside the Scottish Green party, meaning it should receive less coverage than the SNP, Labour, the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems.
But Coburn claimed he'll be on BBC TV much more than Greens leader Patrick Harvie because broadcasters in Scotland will be forced to dedicate equal coverage to the "Leave" and "Stay" campaigns ahead of the referendum.
"Obviously I'm going to be in the picture a lot from now on as we're the only party in Scotland opposed to the European Union," said Coburn. "Every other party, including Ruth Davidson's Conservatives, are mad for it.
"The hardcore 25% in Scotland who hate the European Union will see they have no choice but to vote for UKIP, so there will be a big overspill from that into the general election."
Coburn dismissed the Scottish Greens as "an irrelevance" and its leader, Harvie, of being "an SNP lickspittle", adding: "Our party is actually going somewhere on a national basis so we're going to get a lot more publicity than they are and quite deservedly so.
"The Lib Dems are dead in the water, they're finished. We don't need to take them seriously and I'd expect a lot more coverage than them too. Ideally, I'd like to be considered in the same bracket as the SNP."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at email@example.com.
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