Tuesday, 22 April 2014

#Indyref: Scotland different immigration debate

You may be forgiven for not appreciating the scale of the divergence in views on immigration between Scottish & English voters

Media silence, UKIP jingoism

Did you know that 43% of Scottish voters want either 'more' immigration, 'status quo' or have yet to make up their mind? Compare this little factoid to England where only 24% feel the same. (find statistic source here) Why is this relevant? What role has it to play in the Scottish independence referendum debate? 

Firstly, why is this divergence relevant. For starters it isn't an attempt to promote a rabid nationalist concept of Scottish exceptionalism on my part. I fully suspect a major difference on the immigration question within England; probably based on the north-south divide. However northern England hasn't enjoyed de facto cultural independence from the home counties since the act of union... whereas Scotland has. After all, wasn't it the great poet Murray Pittlock who said of Scotland and its place inside the UK "[Scotland] has enjoyed a form of cultural autonomy in the absence of its political equivalent"? Thus I feel on safe ground exploring this divergence between north & south of the wall on social, political, cultural grounds free from any risk of 'nationalism' being hurled at my direction. 
What this difference in perception on immigration represents is a radically different public appreciation on the roles played by immigration. Clearly significantly more Scots think a) more or current levels of immigration is essential to economic well-being and b) have no truck with the growing isolationist strands of public opinion down south. After all, what is more isolationist than the rise of UKIP, and the 'better off out' brigade of rabidly anti-EU fruitcakes?

43% of Scots think more positively on immigration than is comparable anywhere else in the UK. This leads me to 'what role' it has to play. 

Its role is surely obvious? Premise: what if 43% of Scots are correct in suspecting immigration at current or greater levels is probably essential to our economy? And how likely is it that their views are taken seriously in London, Westminster?

Not a lot would be a fair conclusion. And why should it? To the vast majority of English MPs Scotland is little more than unthinking anti-tory tactical voters. A place which produces Labour lobby fodder in division lobbies just like God created the green shires. In short, it doesn't, and perhaps fairly shouldn't, feature on their radar. Scotland dependence on the positive role immigration plays is economically, socially different from the role the same immigration is playing in the heavily populated south of England. Different places, different economic needs, different public attitudes. It isn't rocket science is it?

Figure such as the 43% has the potential to compel Scots to realise the wisdom in Murray Pittock words. Scotland does have enjoy, and always has, a radically different cultural sphere. But now figures like the 43% expose a newer truth: post-empire the union no longer fits our economic needs. Isn't it time then to secure the powers for Holyrood that will enable our country to chart a more Scotland-friendly immigration policy? One which promotes, rather than penalises the promising role foreign workers can play in enhancing our commonweal?

And given the fact than 92% of Scots asked think Holyrood should control the levers of economic powers... can we really afford not to vote YES? Can we afford not to take control over our own economic, and therefore by necessity - immigration policies?

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Sources: (in case hyperlinks fail)
1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-26020982
 2) http://www.scotlandvotes.com/