UKIP’s only MEP in Scotland has intimated he will stand against the former Scottish First Minister in the 2015 General Election.
David Coburn, who is openly gay, revealed plans to contest the Gordon constituency in an interview with Scotland on Sunday.
The constituency is currently held by Lib Dem Sir Malcolm Bruce, who will be retiring at the election. Alex Salmond announced his intention to stand earlier this month.
Coburn has been an MEP since the 2014 European election, at which his party secured 10 per cent of the vote in Scotland. He has since eyed a Westminster seat, and had previously told The Scotsman that he intended to stand in Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill.
Coburn previously contested the seat of Old Bexley and Sidcup in 2010. He finished fifth with 1,532 votes.
UKIP have not previously stood a candidate in Gordon, but Coburn and UKIP believe that challenging the former First Minister directly could reap rewards for the party, which has yet to have a Scottish MP returned to Westminster.
Coburn suggested that part of his motivation in standing in Gordon was to thwart Alex Salmond’s hopes of election, expressing frustration at the SNP’s refusal to accept the outcome of the referendum. He added that UKIP will “throw a lot of resources at it and target the seat he goes for and quite a few others. [Salmond] is the biggest beast, so we’re going to try to knock out this big beast. The man’s arrogance in assuming Scottish voters will put him where he wants means we have a very good chance of beating him.”
Coburn also accused Salmond of “alienat[ing] our closest trading partner” and of seeking to “achieve independence by the back door”. He suggested that it “is possible that [the SNP] would prop up a rotten Labour government or even a rotten Conservative government”, although was silent on what UKIP would do in the event of a hung parliament.
In spite of being openly gay, Coburn has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and has frequently courted controversy with his views on equality. He has argued that civil partnerships should be sufficient: “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.” He also referred to advocates of marriage equality as “equality Nazis”, while labelling Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson “a fat lesbian”.
A spokesperson for the SNP said: “UKIP have virtually disappeared in Scotland, amid a chaotic catalogue of mutual recrimination and expulsion, and candidates with extreme views. David Coburn fits exactly into that category, and he will get short shrift from the people of north-east Scotland.”
The race to be the next MP for Gordon is anticipated to be a tough fight between Salmond – the First Minister who brought in marriage equality legislation – and the Liberal Democrats’ Christine Jardine, who has been a consistent advocate for same-sex marriage.