Edinburgh is a lovely place to live. (Second on the quality-of-living index for the whole of the UK.) Edinburgh is one of a few cities around the world that are genuinely beautiful.
David Coburn is the list-topper candidate for UKIP in Scotland in the EuroElections on Thursday – Nigel Farage feels “bullish” that Coburn will become one of UKIP’s MEPs after the elections on 22nd May. And, Coburn says, he lives in Edinburgh.
David Coburn was born in Glasgow, and moved to London over twenty years ago: he was working in Kensington in 1993, where he ran the Lexicon School of English, which was dissolved in 1993 by the Companies Registrar after failing to file accounts.
He’s lived in Kensington, W11 at least since 14th August 2006 (from Companies House – he’s been the director of several companies) and he was still living there on 24th April 2014, the deadline for UKIP submitting their note of candidates to the Electoral Commission.
[Update: David Coburn has now said on Twitter that he moved to Edinburgh before 25th April 2014, which means the information he provided to the Electoral Commission was not correct:
From the Electoral Commission’s Guidance for Candidates and Agents Part 2b 1.8: “Note that any information provided on nomination papers must be true to the best of your knowledge. It is an offence to provide a false statement on nomination papers. Providing a false statement could invalidate the election, and is also punishable by a maximum fine of £5,000 in England and Wales or £10,000 in Scotland (or an unlimited fine if convicted on indictment) and/or imprisonment of up to six months (or a year if convicted on indictment).” And the list of candidates must (1.15) “Give the full home address of each candidate.”]
In 2010, David Coburn was the UKIP candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, where he got 3.37% of the vote. He also became the London Regional Chairman for UKIP in 2010 after the former Chairman, Paul Wiffen, “saw red” at UKIP being described as a racist party and reacted:
“You left-wing scum are all the same, wanting to hand our birthright to Romanian gypsies who beat their wives and children into begging and stealing money they can gamble with, Muslim nutters who want to kill us and put us under medieval Sharia law, the same Africans who sold their Afro-Caribbean brothers into a slavery that Britain was first to abolish (but you still want to apologize for!)”
UKIP and Paul Wiffen apologised for those comments, and Wiffen was briefly suspended from the party and lost his post as Chair. (He was campaigning to be MP of Ilford South at the time.)
David Coburn then became the London Regional Chairman, and was even nominated by the party members to be the lead candidate for UKIP in the London Assembly elections, though Steven Woolfe was dropped into the top spot by the UKIP leadership. (As it happened, UKIP didn’t gain enough votes to get even one seat in the London Assembly.)
What of Ukip? Buoyed by recent defections from the Tories, they should be happy campers as they look forward to the London Assembly elections. But it is hard to keep good cheer. Last week we flagged up the re-emergence of Paul Wiffen, the candidate who was nasty about black people and Travellers. And now we hear of discord over the party’s choice of lead candidate. Barrister and Ukip City of London spokesman Steven Woolfe has been propelled to the top spot despite being voted only fourth in an election to decide the frontrunner. The move by party chiefs has apparently left regional chairman David Coburn a little sour, and little wonder. He had been nominated for the lead role. Needs the wisdom of Solomon to sort it out. Luckily, the party’s national executive includes Neil “liar and a cheat” Hamilton, the one-time “cash for questions” MP.
David Coburn describes himself on his blog (davidcoburnukip.blogspot.co.uk) as
“UKIP London Regional Chairman, Member of UKIP NEC, UKIP London Assembly candidate 3rd May 2012, Libertarian Blogger”
At some point after he was selected by the UKIP leadership to be the top-of-the-list Scottish MEP candidate for UKIP (perhaps very much as he himself had been replaced by Stephen Woolfe for the London Assembly in 2012, though the Scottish branch of UKIP accused Coburn of making “false statements” in January) Coburn changed his Twitter profile to read:
Lead UKIP Scotland MEP Candidate, Libertarian Blogger Served in Territorials
Edinburgh · davidcoburnukip.blogspot.co.uk
David Coburn served in the Territorials in the “1970s when at uni” he clarified on Twitter when asked. Assuming that he went to Leeds University in 1977 aged 18, that would mean he is bragging on Twitter about student activities from 35 years ago – at a time when being gay in the military was a court-martial offence: this changed in 2000, thanks to campaigning by Stonewall and others.
David Coburn is the kind of gay man UKIP leadership can approve of: UKIP opposes lifting the ban on same-sex marriage, and Coburn thinks equal marriage was provocative to Uganda and Russia.
David Coburn describes himself as a “libertarian blogger”, and he has been on blogspot since July 2010, but his only blog has only one blogpost – EU Gin Lane, posted in 2012, when he was running for the London Assembly. His profile on blogspot describes him as an art dealer, living in London.
He discussed Scottish politics with an interviewer at the UKIP national conference in Torquay and in Glasgow, met with the other five UKIP candidates and forty party members, at the end of February this year (when, according to the information provided to the Electoral Commission, he was still living in London).
Edinburgh is a lovely city and a great place to live. Why not decide to abandon the art dealing world of London business, the Gin Lane of London, and move to Edinburgh? Perhaps David Coburn has always stayed active in Scottish politics and has lots of Scottish connections? Though there is no evidence of that from his Twitter followers. The Wordle created from the locations of David Coburn’s 5000-or-so Twitter followers suggests most of them live in London or the south-east of England.
David Coburn himself doesn’t seem to like Scottish politics much:
Sick and Tired endlessly discussing Lib/Lab/Con/Tartan Labour =- just Vote ’em All out – & we can move On – #UKIP Scotland
— David Coburn UKIP (@DavidCoburnUKip) May 18, 2014
And in the twenty-plus years since he lived in Glasgow, David Coburn seems to have forgotten completely what “sectarianism” means in Scotland: he seems to think that if you visit a place of worship of a faith to which you do not belong, you are “sectarian”.
So to recap: David Coburn lives in Edinburgh. Apparently. But if so, he can’t have moved to Edinburgh till after 25th April 2014. (And, though asked several times to clarify this on Twitter, he refused to give a date for his move.)
David Coburn is not a Londoner, though he has been settled in London since before 1993, and – until May 2014 – has exclusively stood for election in London constituencies.
David Coburn is a Libertarian blogger who’s apparently only ever blogged once.
David Coburn thinks “sectarianism” means “visiting a mosque”.
So I do wonder for how long David Coburn’s residency in Edinburgh will last after Thursday 22nd May.
If this Londoner wins – this Londoner with not a notion in his head of Scottish politics – it will be because not enough people voted. The turnout in the last EuroElections was 28.5% – and for all the SNP’s talk of “vote SNP to keep UKIP out” their campaigning focus is still on the independence referendum. All David Coburn has to do is get 12% of the low turnout (UKIP are polling at 9% this weekend) and a Londoner becomes the first UKIP candidate to win an election in Scotland. So turn out on 22nd May and vote.
By the way, David, there’s a good train leaving Waverley Station (platform 19) at 11:30 Monday to Saturday, gets you into London King’s Cross at only 3:55. Drop by The Piemaker on South Bridge before you catch your train for a humble pie before you go. My guess is your “living in Edinburgh” will last until the votes are counted, and not a day more.
Update, 21st May
About 5pm this evening I reported to the police that David Coburn may have committed an offence by not providing his full home address for the candidates-list. Further updates as and when they occur.
Actually ended up going to Gayfield Square police station with a mass of documents and explaining to a very young (you know you’re getting older, etc) policeman how I’d come to figure out the offence that David Coburn may have committed. Basically, all Coburn’s got to do is prove to the police that his full home address is in Kensington & has never been anywhere else and he has then not committed any offence (it is not illegal for a politician to claim he’s moved locally when he hasn’t, as far as I know). And as I suppose the police won’t get around til asking til after the election, he’ll just have gone home to London and won’t be campaigning in Scotland again…
Update, 26th May
The Western Isles haven’t declared yet but apparently there’s not enough votes there to make a difference to the result. The total votes cast was 1,335,796 (turnout roughly 33.5% from 4.1M registered voters) and the total cast for Ukip was 139,687, or 10.46% of a one-third turnout. Labour and the SNP – and the BBC – should consider themselves responsible: the BBC by continually hyping Ukip as a political party, giving Nigel Farage face-time in Scotland: the SNP and Labour for giving voters so little to vote for. But now it becomes urgent for the Electoral Commission and Police Scotland to ask David Coburn: did he put his full home address on his nomination form? Or had he really moved to Edinburgh “well before” 24th April, and just lied on his nomination form and said he hadn’t?
Update, 27th May
Yesterday, this blogpost went viral. It had been getting a few hundred hits steadily since I published it, but on 26th May it got ten thousand hits, and you are all continuing to visit it: for which I’m greatly appreciative.
Today, the Herald published an article about David Coburn “Ukip’s Coburn London-based despite Scots seat victory”, by Magnus Gardham and Greig Cameron, that pretty much replicates this blogpost. But doesn’t mention me, at all. Of course, all the information I gathered here is publicly available: but I’d like to know if Gardham and Cameron found out via this blog.
Update, 4 months later
Within a week of the vote on 18th September, David Coburn admitted on C4 News that he hadn’t voted in the independence referendum because he’s not registered to vote in Scotland. In short, the legal answer to the question I posed in May is certainly:
David Coburn was lying when he claimed to have moved to Edinburgh, but lying to voters about where you live is not an electoral offence. He was telling the truth to the Electoral Commission: his home address is Kensington.
Ukip's Scottish MEP David Coburn admits to #C4News he didn't vote in Scottish Referendum because he's not registered to vote in Scotland
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) September 26, 2014
Update, March 2015
Apparently, David Coburn of Kensington is now the UKIP PPC for Falkirk. Make of that what you will.