The UKIP candidate for Falkirk has pledged to protect the district’s industry and convince the public to support fracking if elected.
In an interview with The Falkirk Herald, David Coburn said his was the only party to prioritise job-creation and have a realistic plan to increase NHS spending.
He played down his recent controversial remarks about Scottish Government minister Humza Yousaf - which led to both SNP and Labour candidates calling for him to quit the election - insisting he had apologised and the matter was now closed.
“Falkirk’s industries are doing well, but they need protecting,” he said. “It’s always been an industrial town - let’s make sure it stays that way. We need to keep the dynamism in Falkirk and not sink into the mess that so many other towns in Scotland have sunk into.”
The 56-year-old confirmed his support for petrochemical giant Ineos – which owns the Grangemouth refinery complex – and its plans to undertake unconventional gas drilling.
“We need to progress - it’s like people in the 1840s saying they didn’t want steam trains, we must move on,” he said. “There’s a lot of jobs involved.
“We have to make sure the science is right and it’s done properly, things were done in America that weren’t done right. But people need jobs – Grangemouth is a big employer. If those major industries closed down, it would be death for Falkirk.”
Mr Coburn was elected an MEP for Scotland last year and currently stays in Edinburgh, but said he was looking to buy a house in Falkirk.
He added that he had received a positive reaction when canvassing in Falkirk High Street, and the election to replace Eric Joyce as MP was a two-horse race between UKIP and the SNP.
But he was scathing in his assessment of his rival candidates - calling the SNP “sinister” and criticising Labour for not doing enough to prevent the Nationalists’ rise.
“The Labour party in Scotland is finished,” he said. “Falkirk is a fine example. There was an unseemly disagreement over who should be the candidate. And the person who has been plopped in is a sort of Miliband creature or whatever – the long and short of it is the town deserves something better.”
UKIP is in favour of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union and ending what the party calls “mass immigration”.
When asked why Falkirk - an area with a comparatively low level of inward immigration from overseas, and with an ageing population - should back UKIP, Coburn was insistent his party was the right choice for voters.
“There is an ageing population in Scotland and you have to ask yourself why that is - and a lot of it is young people head elsewhere, they go to England or they go abroad to find work,” he commented.
“We have to have a more dynamic, less socialist Scotland. I believe in the Scotland of Andrew Carnegie and Adam Smith, where people want to get ahead in the world, the Scotland we used to have - building businesses and employing their fellow Scots.
“(Nicola) Sturgeon and (Alex) Salmond moan that we need more people to come to Scotland - why don’t we just stop some of our own people leaving? Who wants to stick around in a country that does not value work or effort? That’s why I left when I was a young lad and many of my contemporaries did likewise.”
Coburn made national headlines last month when he compared Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza during an interview with a London-based newspaper.
“I made a stupid joke, I shouldn’t have said, I apologised, and that should have been the end of the matter,” he explained. “I’m a minority myself - I’m gay - and I know what it is like to be discriminated against, and the last thing I would want to would discriminate against anyone.
“I’m a libertarian to my bootstraps - I loathe authority of any sort.”