Jim Murphy MP hit by eggs in Kirkcaldy visit

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Jim Murphy MP was hit by eggs as he encountered a noisy and at times downright hostile crowd on his referendum soapbox tour of Scotland.

The Labour MP, who has pledged to visit 100 towns in 100 days as part of the Better Together campaign, came to Kirkcaldy this afternoon - and it turned out to be the most volatile yet.

He was surrounded by Yes supporters bearing placards and banners and all but drowned out as he tried to speak to the rest of the crowd.

The use of a soapbox - in this case two upturned Irn Bru crates - may be the oldest form of political hustings, but the reception party verged on hostile at times.

Mr Murphy, who also visited Leven and Cupar, was egged twice by one spectator.

The first missile came from the side, and the man then who threw it then walked round the back of the politician to crack a second egg on to his shirt and into his hair.

Even with a microphone and speaker, Mr Murphy struggled to be heard above the crowd which included a large party from the Yes campaign shop further along the street as well as Labour supporters and members of the public, all gathered outside the entrance to the Mercat Shopping Centre.

There were cries of ‘traitor’ and ‘quisling’ and numerous catcalls from the moment he started, but he persevered despite being, literally, surrounded by his opponents. This was a new dimension to ‘in your face’ politics ...

It was deeply unedifying at times, and akin to an angry mob, so much so, once it was over more than one spectator - including some who didn’t agree with his views - apologised to the MP for the treatment he had received.

He told the crowd ‘‘everywhere he went there was a noisy nationalist minority’’ but stressed he was there to speak to the undecideds, and, as he got on top of his vocal opponents he took questions from around his soapbox, including several from yes supporters. They covered defence, the welfare state and jobs - but it was impossible to hear his answers as people yelled over him, ironically demanding he ‘’answer the question’’ just as he was trying to do that.

There was applause as he started to get his message across, and moments of humour too as he said hello to the opponents who had followed him from stop to stop.

Afterwards, his opponents continued to interrupt as he tried to speak with the media.

With egg shell still stuck on his collar and the rain now falling he looked back on a raucous encounter in the Lang Toun.

‘‘The closer the vote gets and the fact the No campaign is ahead and Yes is behind, the aggression of the nationalist minority gets louder and more aggressive - and it inhibits the whole process.

‘‘Not all Yes and No supporters act like this, but in a dark corner of Scotland lives a dark side of nationalism and it has been unlocked.’’

Mr Murphy said he chose his soapbox as a different way to speak directly to voters.,

‘‘I wanted to go out with my soapbox - two Irn Bru crates - and have a conversation,’’ he said. ‘‘Over the last ten days the volume and aggression of nationalist campaign has gone up so many notches. My appeal to everyone is to calm down.’’

Police attended as the event wound down.