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UKIP Scotland Just Held The Most Bizarre Manifesto Launch Of The Year

Nigel Farage's party is hoping to make a breakthrough in the Scottish parliament elections. He was welcomed to UKIP Scotland's campaign launch by the country's "second-best accordionist".

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Alongside UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Scotland's only UKIP representative, David Coburn, laid out a number of pledges ahead of May's election in an attempt to persuade Scottish voters to give the party its first seat in the Holyrood parliament.

Headline policies included:

* Not allowing any more powers to be transferred from Westminster to Edinburgh

* Introducing smoking areas in pubs

* Increasing Scotland's drink-drive limit

* Lifting the ban on airguns

* Introducing weekly bin collections

The event started with a performance from accordionist Ian Stewart, who sat in a corner of the room playing Scottish songs as journalists filed in.

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Stewart told BuzzFeed News he was not a UKIP supporter but chose to come and play at the event because he absolutely loves playing the accordion.

"I've not been playing long, just a couple of years really," said Stewart. "They [UKIP] found out I played the accordion, probably online I suppose, and they asked if I'd come along and I said yes."

Asked if he supported the party, he said: "No, not really, I'm quite impartial to political views. I like playing the accordion, so I don't really mind what happens, you know."

Then the event truly got underway as Coburn and Farage slunk into the room with "Scotland the Brave" belting out of the accordion.

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Coburn – the controversial MEP who has previously called Ed Miliband "a wanker", said women are "a special sort of a man", and compared SNP minister Humza Yousaf to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza – thanked "Scotland's second-best accordionist" for the welcome.

He then set out his party's pitch for the Holyrood elections, which had a large focus on rubbish collections.

"At the moment I have more bins outside my house in Fife than I know what to do with – so many colours," explained Coburn. "The one thing they have in common, these bins, is they never seem to get emptied. So I'm fed up with that and so are most Scots. We want to see weekly bin collections. It may seem minor but to the average person on the street it's important.

"We don't want the whole place infested with rats," he added, to gasps. "We don't want to see Scotland turned into Cairo or something like that."

According to him, businesses are terrified of being "flogged by the cybernats" if they dare to express support for his party, which took 10% of Scotland's vote in 2014's European parliament elections.

Coburn also attacked Scotland's other political parties, who he says are obsessed with raising taxes.

"Every one of them wanted to pluck the voter," said the UKIP Scotland leader. "They just wanted more money and it was for all sorts of reasons, but we all know it's never going to get there. We want to make sure that voters are not plucked."

He added: "I can say quite fairly that we have a good manifesto here, it's solid stuff. You can all have a good read and enjoy yourselves with it."

"I was quite pleased to see that there wasn't the usual welcome committee waiting outside," said Farage, referencing the famous incident in 2013 when he had to hide in an Edinburgh pub away from protesters.

"Maybe this means that the political debate in Scotland has moved on to a new, somewhat more mature level – I certainly hope so."

Farage said he hopes Coburn can win a seat in Holyrood in order to end the "politically correct" culture in Scottish politics: "Get some people elected who are not content to go along with the PC flow, who are happy to provide a voice of opposition, who are unfrightened to stand up and be controversial by going against the direction the mainstream is currently going in."

The UKIP leader also said he and Coburn were the true pro-independence politicians in Scotland, criticising the SNP as "so-called nationalists": "I couldn't look at myself in the shaving mirror and call myself a nationalist if I wanted Scotland to be governed from Brussels, it doesn't make any sense.

"There's only one independence party in British politics, there's only one independence in Scottish politics."

Some of the UKIP Scotland candidates then discovered they had been fined by Edinburgh City Council as they didn't realise they had to pay for parking outside the manifesto launch venue.

Conveniently, page seven of UKIP Scotland's manifesto includes a pledge to campaign against "expensive or restricted parking".

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at jamie.ross@buzzfeed.com.

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