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