Nigel Farage
The protesters who disrupted Nigel Farage's appearance in Edinburgh last night should be applauded, says James Kelly.

The type of protest that prevents a politician from going about his lawful business (and indeed requires him to be bundled away in a police van) isn't usually my cup of tea. But in the case of Nigel Farage's unexpected adventure in Edinburgh, I can only take my hat off to the genius of the organisers. They managed to pull off a largely peaceful protest that spectacularly achieved its central objective - to demonstrate to the rest of the UK that Scotland is, indeed, a different country with different values.

And here's the delicious irony - that objective wasn't achieved simply because Farage found himself being shouted down in Scotland. It may have been the first time that he has encountered such a hostile reaction, but that doesn't in itself prove that Ukip is alien to distinctively Scottish sensibilities - after all, a well-organised group could easily have set up a similar ambush in Birmingham or Manchester.

No, what did the trick was the way in which Farage himself reacted afterwards. Did the protesters know they could simply push a button, then sit back and let the Ukip leader do all their work for them?

Farage thought it would be a great line to say that his tormentors want the "Union Jack... to be extinguished from Scotland forever". Now I dare say that sort of thing goes down a storm in parts of England where Ukip are trying to whip up suspicion of 'anti-British immigrants', but here's the thing, Nigel - we're in the middle of a democratic process that could lead to Scotland becoming an independent country. And yes, that would mean for straightforward practical reasons that the Union Jack will no longer be our national flag. In other words, what Farage is charging the protesters with doing is supporting a Yes vote in the referendum. Golly, how frightful.

Then there was the charge of "anti-Englishness". The odd thing is that those who were at the protest don't recall hearing any hatred expressed towards the English, but did hear a lot of distaste expressed towards Ukip and its anti-immigration policies. Now, why would Farage automatically interpret dislike of his "United Kingdom" party as dislike of the English? Could it be that he sees himself - subconsciously or otherwise - in exactly the same way that most people in Scotland see him, as an English nationalist rather than a British unionist?

If they'd been smart, Ukip could have used what happened to put down roots with small 'c' conservative supporters of the union in Scotland. But you don't do that by equating support for the dissolution of the United Kingdom with racism and fascism. That doesn't cut any ice with unionist opinion in Scotland, which wants to quietly vote for Scotland to remain part of the UK, not to demonise fellow citizens (in many cases friends and family members) who take a different view.

It probably does impress rightwing nationalists south of the border, which is why Farage did it. But if you're lining up Scots who exercise their democratic rights as being part of "the other" that the nation must be protected against (alongside the established Ukip bogeymen of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants), then you're implicitly acknowledging that Scotland is not part of the nation that you purport to represent.

So what exactly is this "UK" in Ukip's title? Judging from his words, Farage seems to perceive it as a Little English Empire of Leftovers, where perpetual allegiance to the flag is required and where the seeking of a democratic exit from the existing constitutional order is considered betrayal. I hope I don't need to point out the irony of Farage painting his opponents as the fascists.

No wonder the No campaign has tried to disassociate itself from Ukip like crazy, but they've got a huge problem on their hands - after the English local elections, Scots now know that Ukip could easily be ruling over us in coalition with the Tories in the not-too-distant future. Unless, of course, we make that impossible by voting for independence.

As a final thought, we really mustn't lose sight of what I find to be funniest part of this whole incident - namely Farage's reason for being in Edinburgh in the first place. He apparently thought he was launching Ukip's campaign for the Aberdeen Donside by-election. Perhaps he would have got a better reception from the locals if he'd known enough about Scottish geography to at least turn up in the right city? I wouldn't bank on it.

Nigel Farage, Ukip and Scottish Protesters: When Nationalisms Collide [BLOG]

George Galloway Condemns Alex Salmond and SNP over Edinburgh Farage Protests

Nigel Farage's BBC Scotland Interview: Full Transcript

James Kelly is author of the Scottish pro-independence blog, SCOT goes POP! Voted one of the UK's top political bloggers, you can hear more from James on Twitter: @JamesKelly