"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Scottish Immigration: One For Tris

Here you go, Tris, and all your fellow Scots. How strange that we were only discussing it yesterday.  Immigration to Scotland has reared its head again.
"Scotland's estimated population as at 2009 is 5.2 million, lower than in 1961. Indeed, the Scottish population was 4.8 million a century ago - in 1911. Over the same period, the population of England has increased by more than 50% - from about 33.7 million to about 51.5 million. In 2003, England had a population density of 383 persons per square kilometre, compared to just 65 persons per square kilometre in Scotland.

The moral I want to draw from this is that although England might be sufficiently crowded, and have sufficient internally-generated population growth to have an interest in restricting immigration, the same does not necessarily apply to all parts of the United Kingdom.

Now, of course, as matters stand, people have freedom of mobility within the UK once they are here, and immigrants tend to congregate in certain parts of England where the jobs are. But would it really be so infeasible, for example, to make it a condition of being granted a residency visa that one were resident in Scotland, say - having a penalty of deportation if one were found to be resident in another part? Why don't we have an immigration policy that directs immigrants to the least densely populated (indeed, in some cases under-populated) parts of the country and parts that have not had population growth?"
I particularly like the line, "England might be sufficiently crowded..."  That's a grand piece of political understatement.  If this ever gets off the ground (and this Labour policy now seems to have the makings of a cross-party consensus) , how will Scotland ensure it only gets 'the best and brightest' immigrants?  I seem to recall that's what they told England at one point.  I'd be interested to know how much control, if any, the SNP government has over immigratiion.  Is it a devolved issue?

It sounds to me as though they're just floating the idea again in an effort to take the focus away from immigration down here.


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