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Depressingly, Ukip Is Now Also a Scottish Phenomena

26/05/2014 13:50 BST | Updated 26/07/2014 10:59 BST

Two things worry me about the European elections. Firstly the low turnout in what is an increasingly important election. Despite already having a four party system turnout in Scotland was lower than the UK average. Secondly, the really disturbing rise in Ukip's appeal in Scotland and throughout the whole of the UK. I'm totally gutted by Ukip's success. No matter about all the other disagreements that Labour, Tory, SNP and Lib Dems have, this is a warning to us all (will write about that more in next few days).

For those of us on the Left, the fact that the British political Right is divided is all the more reason to keep progressive forces united. A divided right makes a united Left more important. While the Right is split over identity and the union with Europe the Left shouldn't divide itself North and South over identity and a union of the United Kingdom.

The background noise to this result is the incredulity of the 90% of the population that one in ten Scots voted for Ukip. But that sound should also be accompanied by the noise of the bubble of cultural conceit amongst sections of the political class finally being burst. The stark reality is that in Scotland we are sadly not immune to Ukip's brand of divisive politics.

I wasn't going to write about this this morning but the SNP's response to Ukip's achievement makes little sense. The SNP seem to be in a deliberate denial about Ukip's success in Scotland. For months the SNP have set up these European elections as proof that Scots and the English are different people. This isn't a new argument. For all the talk of enduring friendship with people in Manchester, Liverpool or Newcastle, the premise of modern nationalism remains that Scots and English people have different values just because we were born on different sides of a non-existent border. But the truth is that most of us have the same hopes, and after UKIP's success it appears many have similar fears.

There are now the same number of UKIP MEPs in Scotland as there are in London, Wales and the North East of England. Given that Scotland has already had four party politics for decades this is remarkable.

Throughout the last few weeks we have seen so many Ukip candidates revealed as far-right racists and anti-Semites. In my constituency I represent Scotland's largest Jewish community and one of the largest Muslim populations in Scotland. The correct reaction to witnessing so many of our fellow Scots voting for the Ukip's avowedly right-wing scapegoating politics is horror, not just to proclaim Scots as morally superior to the English. Most Scottish voters will wake up horrified to be represented by Ukip this morning just as people in Wales, London or the Midlands will be deeply depressed by the choice many of our fellow citizens have made. For that matter so too will the decent people in Paris, Athens and Copenhagen about the decisions of their compatriots.

The fundamental reason Ukip are wrong is that they pretend that the solutions to our problems are to point the finger at people who live, pray or look differently from others. Their basic argument is that throwing stones at our neighbours is better than working together. Its worth remembering that Ukip doubled their Scottish vote in just one election cycle and won their first seat here. The result also exposes the hollow cynicism of the SNP's pretence that Ukip's previous rise in other parts of the UK proved we were intrinsically different peoples who should separate from each other. On that basis an independent Scotland wouldn't want to join a union with France where the fascist National Front came first.

In an election with often contradictory outcomes one thing is now depressingly clear. The rise of Ukip is now also a Scottish phenomena.

This blog first appeared on Jim's personal blog, and can be read here