Maree Todd: “Shambolic points-based immigration proposals are an insult to Scotland”

Maree  ToddThis seems to be the season of storms, both meteorological and political. Daily life across the Highlands and Islands – and further afield – has been subject to major disruption and we all do well to use common sense when travelling around in these conditions.

However, it is travel of a different kind that has become a major concern after the Westminster Tory government last week unveiled its disastrous immigration plans.

These shambolic points-based immigration proposals are an insult to Scotland – they completely disregard the needs of our employers, our public services and our communities.

The Scottish Government put forward a clear, workable proposal of devolving immigration powers by introducing a Scottish Visa. This would allow Scotland to attract and retain people with the skills and attributes we need for our communities and economy to flourish.

These proposals have widespread support across the business and third sector communities in Scotland, and it is time the UK Government listened to those voices.

Boris Johnson’s crack down on so-called low-skilled migration will devastate sectors such as fishing, agriculture, hospitality, and social care, with many firms in the Highlands and Islands, including Orkney, likely to suffer.

In fact there is a total absence of any reference to Scotland, to remote areas, or the self-employed, which is extraordinary. And while the paper is almost silent on families, we know that many thousands more couples will be split apart and parents separated from their kids, by extending the scope of the harsh family visa rules.

And a report published on Monday by the Federation of Small Businesses warned that one in five small businesses in Scotland could close, or radically change their business model, due to difficulties in recruiting EU workers.

It found that 40% of small businesses in Scotland employ at least one EU worker, compared to the UK average of 26%.

Meanwhile, voters in Orkney and Shetland – when not worrying about the impact of Brexit on their islands – must be wondering about the judgement of the man recently elected to serve them at Westminster.

It will be interesting to hear Mr Carmichael’s explanation for accepting £10,000 from a man reputed to be an international arms dealer, Indian billionaire Sudhir Choudhrie.

It seems the MP is more than happy to let a man reported to be one of the world’s biggest arms dealers bankroll his recent election campaign. At least we now know how it could be that the number of Lib Dem leaflets hitting doormats in Orkney and Shetland swamped those sent by all the other parties combined.

If Mr Carmichael really is serious about cracking down on arms exports to warzones like the Ukraine, then voters in the Northern Isles will rightly ask why he’s taking handouts from a man who, reports suggest, is cashing in on the Russian arms trade.

Your Westminster representative won’t do himself any favours to hide from scrutiny on this issue.

It’s time he offered the folk in Orkney and Shetland a full and honest explanation.

This is a regular column by Maree Todd MSP, SNP. All Highlands and Islands MSPs have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views.

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