Am­ber, you do not speak for Scot­land

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

As if the im­pact of Brexit was not bad enough, the fall­out from the UK Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence last week plumbed new depths.

In a thinly dis­guised dis­play of xeno­pho­bia the UK Home Sec­re­tary, Am­ber Rudd, sug­gested that em­ploy­ers across the UK should be com­pelled to pro­duce lists of for­eign work­ers on their books in or­der to shame them into em­ploy­ing more Bri­tish staff.

This was a rep­re­hen­si­ble at­tack on peo­ple who are here legally, who are con­tribut­ing more to the econ­omy in tax and spend­ing more than they are re­ceiv­ing.

In many cases they are do­ing jobs in cer­tain sec­tors, such as agri­cul­ture, where em­ploy­ers have dif­fi­culty re­cruit­ing lo­cal labour.

They may be fill­ing highly skilled, pro­fes­sional po­si­tions where we have re­cruit­ment or skills gaps. Or they may sim­ply be ex­er­cis­ing their le­gal rights to free­dom of move­ment and em­ploy­ment as Euro­pean cit­i­zens.

Forc­ing em­ploy­ers to pro­duce such lists – or even sug­gest­ing that it is a good idea – smacks so much of fas­cism that its fright­en­ing. By even sug­gest­ing pro­pos­als such as these the Tories are vil­i­fy­ing every for­eign na­tional liv­ing and work­ing in the UK re­gard­less of their le­gal sta­tus.

Notwith­stand­ing re­cent in­di­ca­tions from the Home Of­fice that they are pulling back from the idea, the mask has slipped and we should be very con­cerned at the di­rec­tion of travel in­di­cated by such an­nounce­ments.

The ar­gu­ments for or against tougher im­mi­gra­tion con­trols were used and ex­ploited by the Leave side and the rightwing me­dia dur­ing the Brexit cam­paign, play­ing on peo­ple’s fears and emo­tions. I am sure, how­ever, that many who voted Leave will be sur­prised by how much and how quickly this Gov­ern­ment have lurched fur­ther to the right.

For­tu­nately, Scot­land re­mains a coun­try with a pro­gres­sive, tol­er­ant, pro-Euro­pean at­ti­tude. Once again we saw the First Min­is­ter lead the op­po­si­tion to the un­ac­cept­able and in­tol­er­a­ble sen­ti­ments com­ing from the UK Gov­ern­ment.

Speak­ing in Par­lia­ment, Ni­cola urged Scots to re­flect on who we are in Scot­land to­day, to cel­e­brate our dif­fer­ences and treat oth­ers with re­spect. In a pow­er­ful mes­sage that re­flected the in­clu­sive and di­verse na­ture of our so­ci­ety she stated: “We are more than five mil­lion men and women, adults, young peo­ple and chil­dren, each with our own life sto­ries, fam­ily his­to­ries and our own hopes and dreams.

“We’re the grand­chil­dren and the great grand­chil­dren of the thou­sands who came from Ire­land to work in our ship­yards and in our fac­to­ries. We are the 80,000 Pol­ish peo­ple, the 8,000 Lithua­ni­ans, the 7,000 each from France, Spain, Ger­many, Italy and Latvia, who are among the many from coun­tries be­yond our shores that we are so priv­i­leged to have liv­ing here amongst us.

“We are the more than half a mil­lion peo­ple born in Eng­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land who have cho­sen to live here in Scot­land.

“Whether we have lived here for gen­er­a­tions, or are new Scots from Europe, In­dia, Pak­istan, Africa and coun­tries across the globe we are all of this and more. We are so much stronger for the di­ver­sity that shapes us. We are one Scot­land. We are sim­ply home to all those who have cho­sen to live here. That is who and what we are.”

As the de­scen­dant of im­mi­grants and a proud Scot, that is who I am. I will work tire­lessly for all, and I will al­ways stand against all forms of in­tol­er­ance and racism when­ever and wher­ever it man­i­fests it­self.

Scot­land is a coun­try with a pro­gres­sive, tol­er­ant, pro-Euro­pean at­ti­tude

Wel­come Clare Haughey says for­eign­ers are wel­come in Scot­land

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