All 2 entries tagged Scotland

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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.

August 13, 2007

Scotland to get regional news service (another one)?

Writing about web page

Scotland has always insisted on doing things its own way, bless it. Even before they got their own Parliament the education system was different from the rest of Britain’s. And animal welfare folks were clearly unhappy to consort with the royalists in the RSPCA when they created their own SSPCA.

As an Englishman with Scottish blood and a sense that we should all just get along, this type of thing irritates me. I was in the Highlands last week – sans internet, hence this belated blog. On Monday I was happily watching Newsnight when at 11 they suddenly went to “Newsnight Scotland”. ‘ckin ‘ell, I thought, as if they don’t get enough regional news in their regional news bulletins, they have to commandeer Newsnight too, with their pointless local stories.

My outrage promptly quadrupled when their main story somewhat ironically turned out to be a call by Alex Salmond for Scotland to take a bigger slice of the licence fee, set up its own broadcasting corporation and do its own news. This is a joke, right? Did he not do some basic research before he started mouthing off and actually watch the TV?

What possible use could there be for a Scots-only Six O’Clock News, followed by the exisiting Reporting Scotland? How could these extra resources possibly improve on Scotland’s current news provision, Newsnight Scotland and all? And where does the Scottish mafia that’s supposedly running the corporation fit into all this?

Scotland Minister David Cairns put it well:

Denying Scots access to the world’s most respected broadcaster by creating a parochial and narrow Scottish Broadcasting Corporation is a backward-looking proposal which will command little public support.

I don’t believe Salmond is thick enough to sincerely believe Scots really need a new news source. Tellingly, the First Minister wants Holyrood – under his control (just) since May, of course – to be in charge of the proposed “SBC”. Presumably, the idea would be to fill the headlines with pro-independence propaganda in the run-up to a referendum.

By all means, Mr Salmond, should the Scots vote for secession, you can go ahead and accessorise your tinpot dictatorship with an uncritical state TV station, but as long as you’re still part of Britain, you’re having the BBC.

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