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By Jason Michael
Scottish statehood needs people. After independence we will be faced with the task of answering Scotland’s immigration problem.
As we have only come to expect, the British state broadcaster, the BBC, continues to lionise Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish unionist party, over her criticism of Theresa May’s immigration policy as though the SNP has not been saying this for years. England’s xenophobic Brexit was, as far as the electorate was concerned, all about immigration, with May inheriting David Cameron’s promise to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands and the Leave campaign demanding sovereignty over our borders. Already this has caused chaos in the jobs market with EU citizens opting to relocate to the continent before the proverbial poo hits the fan.
May’s London government is sticking to its guns on reducing the inflow of much needed foreign workers on the rather disingenuous grounds that reducing immigration is what the British people want. But, like all societies, the British public wants what it is told it wants. Years of state and corporate media fear and hate mongering have shaped public demand, effectively manufacturing the Brexit consensus of isolationism, securitisation, and racism. It is little wonder the British qua English public wants exactly what the British establishment has long sought.
The problem is not just that the Gov has created a hostile environment. This conversation was going on under Lab Go… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
Julie Owen Moylan (@JulieOwenMoylan) April 20, 2018
The Brexiteers, however, have overplayed their hand. Britain has never been self-sufficient and the modern reality of globalism – the process of more closely interweaving international trade and industry – only increases the UK’s dependence on foreign partners, inward investment, and an inward flow of labour and skills. Limiting immigration under these conditions, coupled with the tumbling confidence in the pound and the reluctance outside Europe to strike a trade deal with a post-Brexit Britain, can only accelerate the shrinkage of the entire UK economy – threatening us ultimately with an economic collapse.
In Scotland, where the economy requires immigration for growth, this problem is more acute. Already as a result of Brexit uncertainty we have seen a disappearance of skills in education, healthcare, and right across the essential services. Much the same picture exists in the general workforce, in manufacturing and the service industries. Shortfalls such as this have serious knock-on effects in the Scottish economy. Fewer people going out to work; fewer skilled people filling the gaps, both exacerbates the skills shortage and reduces tax revenue – making it more difficult to pay for the education and training required to fill the gap and pay for the social services and healthcare we have. It does not take a genius to do the maths.
It was the loosening of immigration regulations at the time of the EU expansion that created the necessary conditions for an economic boom in Britain and Ireland from the late 1990s, a period of growth that worked wonders for the economies of these islands. “Taking back control” is really just a patriotic and sloganistic term to mask what is really happening: An act of economic suicide that will fix the economy on a trajectory of terminal decline while making it easier for the further financialisation of the upper-tier economy – benefiting only the super-rich.
Ireland is a country that, before the Celtic Tiger, had never really had to deal with immigration before. There was… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
Chris Brosnahan (@ChrisBrosnahan) March 29, 2018
More pressing than questions of currency – which are nothing more than a clever distraction – are the questions of immigration. At the front and centre of the project of building an independent Scotland the Scottish government has to have a plan in place for undoing the damage that is right now being done. This is far less daunting than it might at first appear. We have years of experience under London rule and devolution of attracting people to Scotland, we have the accumulated experience of how other European countries have dealt with the challenges of multiculturalism and integration, and we have a first rate example from our nearest neighbour of how not to do it.
How we achieve this presents a number of challenges. We simply cannot ignore the fact that diversity, the competition between immigrants and the poor white working class, the demonisation of multiculturalism by the media, and the ramping up of a fictive terror threat all contributed to the English public’s demand for Brexit. Neither can we afford to imagine that Scotland is uniquely unsusceptible to the same forces. Reversing Westminster’s immigration policy in Scotland will not be easy, but the economy of an independent Scotland absolutely depends on it.
SuhurInTheMorningDingDingIftarInTheEveningDingDong (@naayacaliyo) September 22, 2017
Yet all of the best solutions are written into the problems. Education, poverty reduction, higher standards in the media, and a more rational appraisal of terrorism – and its causes – will greatly facilitate the process of attracting and including new Scots. The difficulties in this are easy to see. Doing this will require huge investment and social and political commitment. Under normal circumstances, in a time of the political normal, this would be difficult to maintain and support. But in the first few decades of independence we will not be living in the political environment of business as usual; we will be engaged in a national project of building a new state.
What we put into that project will shape the nation and the course it takes for centuries. This is precisely what is meant when we hear people talking of a “vision for Scotland.” Independence will ask us to look into the future and see the Scotland we want to create, so that in the present we can establish the foundations. There will be no escaping the social engineering aspect of our new statehood, and this is where we can commit to the task of making the soil better for immigration and all the other new or improved social and political realities we envisage for Scotland.
Immigration in Scotland by Fusion Journalists