Interview with David Coburn, UKIP leader in Scotland

He was a businessman, he wants to fight against the establishment and he believes in amateur politicians, not in professional ones. Does it sound familiar? No, we’re not talking about the new elected president of the United States. We’re talking about David Coburn, the UKIP leader in Scotland and the only Scot member representing the party in the European Parliament.

European Parliamentary elections

He has built a notorious reputation for what people regard as outrageous remarks but he’s not bothered. “I was a businessman and I did well enough to reach an accountable life and many people think that I became a politician to make money. I got in for public service and to help my country and that’s why I am in politics. And I am there to say what I think is right, not just what people want to hear”, he says.

That’s actually the key for his success: being an “ordinary person to represent ordinary people”. Unlike the rest of the parties on the Parliament, the “UKIP wants amateur politicians”. He considers that the problem is that nowadays politicians “seem to be people who has never had a job in his life other than as a politician” and who has “no experience on running anything”. That’s why a change is needed.

“You’re seeing it in the United States, where people are sick and tired of the professional politicians lying to them. That’s why they removed professional politicians, like Obama. And now they’ve put in Donald Trump, who I think is an excellent future president of the United States because he’s a successful businessman and they want him to speak for the ordinary people”, he affirms.

The cause of those changes that are taking place in our days? “People like myself, people like Trump, people like Farage or Madame Le Pen do not represent the ruling political and media elites”, he answers. At the same time, he rejects their common treat: “Just because they think that it’s wrong to have an open door for immigration they are meant to be racist. Lots of people coming with an islamic religions and they’re trying to push our ordinary people. If people come to our country they must try to live like us”.

Coburn doesn’t like to be told what to say but neither what to do. For the moment, his main goal as the UKIP leader in Scotland is “to make sure that we leave the European Union” and then “get into the House of Commons and to remove the current establishment”, he assumes.“We should be free of the European Union and ruled by our Parliaments in Westminster and Holyrood but not by Brussels and Strasbourg or Frankfurt. We need to rule our country in our own way. I will fight for that right”. That’s what he stands for and that was the main reason why he started on politics.

“I started volunteering on my spare time and I was in political organizations. And I left the conservative party disagreeing about Europe. I didn’t agree with European Union and Nigel Farage took me out for an alcoholic and we drunk so much wine that I came out saying that I will support him and I did it”.

After the wine, there were some values defended by the UKIP that Coburn agreed with: “we are a libertarian party. We believe in limited government. We do not believe in the freedom of the people. We believe that politicians are the servants of the people, not the people the servants of the politicians. And we believe in our national Parliament, the House of Commons. We believe that this is the only source of power and we should not be told what to do by an elected European bureaucracy in Brussels”.

In spite of his declared europhobia, he thinks that “Scotland and Britain as a whole have a very good relationship with other European countries, but it has been soured because we have been forced to do things that other European countries wanted to do but that we didn’t wanted to do because it wasn’t in our interests. I love Europe. I love France. I love Spain, I love Spanish people but I don’t want to share a bank account with Spanish people”.

For the moment, it’s hard to deal with that for him: “As long as we’re in the European Union I will have to accept the law. Otherwise I would be a revolutionary. I’m nearly a revolutionary but not one”.

Nevertheless, Coburn doesn’t even look being interested in what the highest Scottish power decides: “Nobody cares about what Madame Sturgeon says. She talks a tremendous amount of nonsense. She sees everything through this idea, this obsession and hysteria about the Scottish independence”.

He defends that the Scots voted on the referendum as a part of the United Kingdom and that’s the reality. The UKIP member claims that the president of the European Union, Mister Schultz agreed with him after having a nice cup of coffee together: “no such agreement was made with the Scots”.

But it’s not all about politics or economy. It’s also about personal issues. The leader has openly assumed his homosexual orientation but he’s still against gay marriage. “Marriage is considered to be a holy sacrament by many people of religious faiths. Many people decided that it was a good thing to have civil partnerships and I thought that was a good idea. But suddenly someone decided that it wasn’t enough. This is about the European Union trying to force everybody to get rid of their religion. The EU hates religion and that is wrong”, he says.

He is convinced that “the idea of marriage for people of the same sex is ridiculous” and “it’s making a lot of enemies”. But, anyway, that it’s happened and he blames on “Tony Blair and his liberal so-called elite”. “They’re authoritarians and they brought us into the European Union and the disasters of the wars of the Middle East. These are the people who are guilty. And now they’re trying to ruin things for gay people. I think it’s making gays unpopular and I don’t want to be made unpopular by a bunch of heterosexual politician”, he says.

Alba Tarrago

Interview with Daniel Wallace, Olympic swimmer

Daniel Wallace can consider himself a national hero, and not just because of his nickname, Braveheart (very deserved, by the way). “I’m from bonny Scotland, with ginger hair, a large personality and the second name Wallace. So the nicknames ‘Braveheart’ seemed pretty fitting”, he explains.

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Wallace is one of the team members who represented Great Britain at the Rio Olympics, including Duncan Scott, Stephen Milne, James Guy and Robbie Renwick, four of them swimmers from the University of Stirling. The squad made a new British record with a time of 7:03.13, winning the silver medal for the 4x200m Freestyle Relay.

The 23 years old swimmer from Edinburgh confesses that they key was “Trust. We had fought for our spot on that relay and we knew that each of us wanted to succeed as a team more than anything. We trusted in each other and everything fell perfectly into place”.

In fact, this is one of the things that he appreciated the most of the whole competition: “The relationships between all the swimmers on the Olympic team was great. We all know each other very well now and I can happily say they are my friends for life”.
Dan, how he uses to be called, remembers the experience as “a dream that seemed a million miles away. In the end it suddenly creeped up on me. Only now looking back I can see how special it was and what it means to me to say I have done it”.

One of the things that he points as one of his strongest points is the mental ability: “I’m able to stay very relaxed during high pressure situations in swimming and this allows me to always have fun during my races and competitions”. This is why he didn’t find any pressure in representing the whole country: “I loved having the responsibility to represent my country and I felt a huge sense of pride in doing so”.

The competitive ambience that we all think that the Olympics implicates seems far from reality in Dan’s words: “I loved meeting and speaking with other athletes from all around the world, knowing that we are all here doing the same thing. Representing our countries at the highest sporting level”.

Wallace has been swimming for more than 10 years now and he still remembers that at the age of 15 he discovered that this was something he wanted to dedicate his life to. His first competition was the Scottish Schools Championship. “Since then I have gone on to win medals at The Commonwealth Games, World Championships and The Olympic Games. As well as holding several Scottish and British records”, he remembers.

He started his career in Scotland, but his passion moved him to the other side of the ocean: Florida. Actually, his club is the University of Stirling and his college team is the University of Florida. But there’s any problem on that, for him is like “having two big families”.

Talking about how easy is to combine studies and a professional swimmer life he considers that the University of Stirling is one the “places around the world that allow you to pursue an athletic career and also to earn an academic qualification”.

But there’s more in life then study and workout: family and friends. The swimmer says that it has been easy for him to deal with that. “My family and friends have been there since day one. They have sacrificed just as much as I have on my journey and my success in swimming wouldn’t have been possible without them. I do enjoy getting away from the pool and my swimming life and just being normal from time to time with my friends and with my family who I am very close with”, he explains.

Especially his mum is an essential part in his life. If there’s someone who could replace Michael Phelps as a role model that’s his mum: “my mum Tanya is the most loving and hard working person I know and she has so many great qualities”.

But there’s no doubt that Phelps was an inspiration for him, as he affirms that “he was definitely someone who I looked up to when I started swimming. To now have raced him and to call him a friend of mine is crazy”.