Reasons why Scotland needs to control immigration


By Russell Bruce

The campaign for the Scottish Parliament to gain control of immigration north of the border just gets stronger and stronger.

The FT have ran yesterday with a special report [paywall] on how overseas students have been harried and targeted by a Home Office that owes more to the Third Reich than a caring and compassionate country that actually cares about how it is seen at home and abroad.

The comparison with the discriminatory bureaucracy in Nazi Germany some may find a stretch rather far. The reality is Jews were marked and forced to wear the yellow star of David. This was accompanied by the removal of human rights – the right to travel, the right to run businesses and restrictions on the right to education in schools and universities.

England was in the vanguard in discrimination against Jews

The use of stars to force identification of religious minorities was common in 13th century Europe and England joined in with a legislative programme under Edward 1st. Edward’s 1275 Statute of the Jewry contained the following:

“Each Jew, after he is seven years old, shall wear a distinguishing mark on his outer garment, that is to say, in the form of two Tables joined, of yellow felt of the length of six inches and of the breadth of three inches.”

In 1290 Edward expelled Jews

The Home Office have not used yellow stars or any other physical ‘badge’ to identify students and others they believe are here illegally but they have marked them just as surely by forcing some students to give up their courses, denied them the right to work to help support themselves in this country and denied them the right to find somewhere to live. The Home Office charges hefty fees when they seek justice and it can end in a process where they have no right of appeal

This is England in the 21st century with scant regard for human rights. The bureaucratic hurdles are designed to encourage, so called illegals, to give up and leave. These are not the actions and administrative practices that a civilised country would follow.

Boiling frog coming up to temperature

Much more is going to enter the public domain as the stories mount and the concerns of EU citizens, already leaving in considerable numbers, are much in the mind of EU negotiators.

The hostile environment at the Home Office was created by May. She cannot escape the continuing fallout or the consequences of her decisions. Trapped in a cabinet that cannot agree a Brexit strategy, or even make any significant progress, May is a woman sitting in a pan of water slowly coming to the boil.

Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer wrote about the paralysis gripping May’s government

“The great rupture of the Tory party over Brexit cannot be avoided indefinitely. What might look to some like cunning cleverness is, on closer inspection, really an exercise in trying to postpone the inevitable while desperately hoping that something will turn up.”

Changing the culture is some task

Windrush a month ago might have been a description of something coming out of either end of Boris Johnson. Now it marks Britain as a society in conflict and lacking in the civilized ethos it claims to represent to the world.

It is to be hoped that Sajid Javid can make a real change at the Home Office but he will have his work carved out to make a change in the ingrained ethos that has made life as difficult as possible for those this major office of state have questions over. In denying right to residence, to live freely, to study, work and find a place to live and resorting to detention they have made a mockery of what British justice was supposed to stand for.

If only Javid were to see the advantage he would in fact be aided by immigration in Scotland coming under the control of the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government has a track record of innovation in policy development and implementation.

The UK is dependent on income from other countries. Overseas students pay fees and all students contribute to the UK economy through part time employment to support themselves and their spend adding to the churn through the local economy.

The value to Scotland’s economy of international student here is worth £2 billion a year. EU students in Scotland do not pay fees but they do have to finance their stay and therefore contribute much to the economy.

Overseas students who stay on to work contribute economic gain by inputting knowledge and skills across a wide range of sectors. Perhaps the most important contribution of the tertiary education sector in taking overseas students is the legacy of a positive attitude towards Britain. Whether qualified people stay on or return to their own countries their experience determines how they view the UK. That is something we understand in Scotland.

Home Office ways and means are not only unsafe and despicable but they damage the reputation of Britain in the eyes of the global world some think it is fit to engage with.

There is an old saying about personal ambition. Be nice to the people you pass on your way up because you will meet them again on your way down

Let Scotland not be judged by a Home Office handing out bureaucratic punishment on the basis of guilty unless proven innocent by tortuous and expensive means of questionable legality.

Scotland needs these critical powers over immigration for our economy and how we are perceived in the world. Scotland does not deserve the reputational damage inflicted by one of the key offices of state in a Britain on its way down a ladder with dodgy rungs


  1. “The value to Scotland’s economy of international student here is worth £2 billion a year.”

    This may sound rather positive, but is it? Most of this overseas student expenditure is on fees and accommodation, with much of the remaining balance on sustenance. Fees pay for univ staff and facilities. Most of the lecturing staff nowadays certainly at postdoc and professorial level at Scotland’s elite uni’s in particular are not Scots; by implication these staff must be brought here, and many do their PhD’s here. Some might say this has a cost to Scottish society. And most of the overseas student accommodation is provided by the private rented sector, the beneficiary there being private owners of the properties, who tend to be the better off, and who become even better off thanks to overseas students paying high rents. And there are of course downsides to high levels of student accommodation in cities, including squeezing out locals who cannot afford high rents or even find accommodation, with rents rising in line with ever rising demand from students. This supposed £2bn ‘value to Scotland’s economy’ therefore requires more careful analysis before rushing to any conclusions.

  2. Alf
    This article is based, in part, on a study by the Scottish Government on the impact of International students coming to Scotland. Any shortcomings in the reporting are mine.
    In the ministerial foreword Shirley-Anne Somerville writes:
    “Scotland has always been an open and welcoming nation, and that welcome has been extended to the many people from around the world who choose to study, live, work and raise their families here. Their presence in our communities across the country has helped make Scotland the modern, dynamic nation it is today”

    University education does include an international aspect and experience for Scottish students and remember international experience is a two way process with many Scots furthering their education in other countries.
    You are correct that lecturers and professors may well come from other countries. That was my experience and I did not consider that a disadvantage. Quite the opposite as different perspectives from different cultures expand the student experience. Scotland is a welcoming country and only last night I met someone from Portugal who was fulsome in the welcome he has experienced and was well aware that England has a different and more hostile environment.

    This is the link to the study. It is included in the graphic but perhaps not over prominent


    • With respect, Russell, no amount of Ministerial hyperbole that simply restates Universities Scotland mantra on this topic alters my own critical perspectives developed over some 30 years spent within the higher education sphere, much of it in international collaborative research. With fewer and fewer Scots undertaking PhD work here relative to the far higher number of overseas postgrad students, and longstanding academic recruitment practice heavily oriented towards candidates from outside Scotland, it should seem rather obvious that even fewer of Scotland’s future academics will be Scottish. Any cursory glance at the staff composition of numerous university departments and institutes rather confirms ‘the damage’ is already done – as do most TV/radio interviews of Scottish university academics talking about studies on this and that. As I implied above, the two main beneficiaries of this overseas student expenditure would seem to be: the academics we bring in to Scotland to teach, and; the private rented sector. I suspect that is where most of any £2bn ends up. Do ordinary Scots figure in this? Not really. The Scots are a people left behind in thair ain laund, and increasingly ignored by our own universities.

  3. Its all very well saying Scotland is a welcoming country but the local people who have lived here for generations and have worked hard to pay for all the facilities and benefits they have are having to share this without being asked if they want to I mean when does charity end and stupidity begin???


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