All entries for Sunday 09 September 2007

September 09, 2007

Holyrood leads the way on asylum policy

Labour’s going to announce that skilled non-EU immigrants will have to speak English if they want to come over here and take our jobs. I wonder if, say, Thailand will retaliate and force British ex-pats to learn their language.

As vaguely hypocritical anti-immigrant policies go, it’s fairly reasonable, even to a liberal like me; it might foster more cultural exchange in our communities and will hopefully shut the Tories up for a bit.

I was rather amazed how different the immigration agenda is north of the border. At work this week I read a debate in the Scottish Parliament on asylum seekers. The motion, made by an Scottish Nationalist MSP, called for them to be given the right to work. They sit on their arse all day, living off the state; why not let them work and thereby contribute to the economy and lift their self-esteem?

It’s a good policy, yet I was surprised that everyone agreed with it – Labour, Lib Dem, the SNP minister, and even the Conservative Shadow Justice Secretary Bill Aitken. In the 2005 General Election only the Lib Dems were advocating it.

To be fair, the Scottish Parliament has no power on immigration issues, so nothing will come out of the debate except a promise from Stuart Maxwell, the Communities Minister, to have a chat to the Home Office about it. But it’s nice to see that public discourse on asylum seekers can ignore the scaremongering press and be progressive.


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