By Fiona Grahame
Size is a matter of comparisons. Scotland is usually referred to as a small country and indeed it is in comparison to the likes of Canada.
Scotland is a nation abundant in natural resources. It has a reasonable climate: not too cold and not too hot just a wee bit windy and dreich.
So indeed you may consider it a small country, but it is a small country with an awesome landscape.
A landscape that is mainly empty of people.
Scotland’s most valuable resource is its people but our demographic is an ageing one.
We simply need more people.
One way we can do this is by supporting families. This is achievable to a limited extent and it is being done by the Scottish Government with: the baby box, increased early years education and measures to mitigate the UK Government’s welfare cuts that are forcing those with children into poverty. Scottish Welfare Fund Supporting Families
We can also get more people by encouraging immigration.
The Scottish Parliament wants Scotland to have control over migration: currently that is a power reserved to Westminster.
Now why is that important ?
Well we have the ridiculous situation where people who have invested in our communities and built up a successful business are falling foul of UK immigration policies and being forced to leave.
We have teachers who cannot come and work in our Gaelic speaking communities because the UK as a whole has no need for them.
Students and academics who have come here from EU countries face an uncertain future as we Leave the EU with the Erasmus scheme in jeopardy.
And the Free Movement of people which meant people could come here to work and Scots could travel easily to other nations in the EU , will come to an end with Brexit.
One size does not fit all and the needs of rUK are not Scotland’s needs. An immigration policy based on the UK as a whole is completely skewed against what would work best for our communities.
Scotland requires its own migration policy.
Fiona Hyslop,External Affairs Secretary in the Scottish Government said:
“There is a growing consensus, from a wide range of organisations, that Scotland’s unique demographic challenges make it vital for us to have the power to set a policy tailored to our needs. The Scottish Government will continue to work to build on this momentum.
“Scotland relies more heavily on inward migration for population growth than other parts of the UK – therefore a UK-wide policy to reduce net migration is not in Scotland’s interests. And there is no reason why applying different migration rules to different parts of the UK should be problematic.
“Our discussion paper, published earlier this month, clearly sets out the devastating economic consequences of falling migration levels in the years to come. Beyond the economic argument we want a country which is welcoming, and recognises the contribution made by the people who come to make Scotland their home – enriching our culture and our communities.”
Migration is not a crime and it is not new.
An interesting research paper has been published about the Beaker People of our islands. They lived 1000s of years ago in what we call the Bronze Age. Their DNA surges through most of us and the analysis has shown that they migrated here from the Steppe region of Europe. In a few hundred years they replaced “about 90% of Britain’s gene pool.” The paper is free to read online and I commend the authors for permitting this as too many research papers confine themselves to a few academics and never get into the public domain.
Which goes to show we’re all a mixter maxter.
It is something of a compliment that people should chose to come to live and work in Scotland. They bring a vitality and energy into our communities encouraging the prosperity of our economy. They bring new ideas and skills. They introduce us to different foods, music and art.
“Today, there are an estimated 219,000 EU citizens living in Scotland, alongside an estimated 135,000 other international migrants. These 355,000 non-British nationals living in Scotland represent 7% of Scotland’s population. ” Migration Paper
Scotland would like to take more. And we need to take more. Hostility from rUK politicians around the issue of immigration means encouraging people to come and settle here will not be happening. That does not suit Scotland: a land with an ageing demographic, an abundance of natural resources….
….and lots of space.
“So come all ye at hame wi’ Freedom,
Never heed whit the hoodies croak for doom.
In your hoose a’ the bairns o’ Adam
Can find breid, barley-bree and painted room.” (Hamish Henderson)