How we can build for a new Scotland after independence - Angus Robertson

Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville with minister for migration and refugees Emma Roddick (right) and minister for independence Jamie Hepburn (left) at the launch of the sixth paper in the Building a New Scotland series, at the V&A in Dundee. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA WireSocial justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville with minister for migration and refugees Emma Roddick (right) and minister for independence Jamie Hepburn (left) at the launch of the sixth paper in the Building a New Scotland series, at the V&A in Dundee. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville with minister for migration and refugees Emma Roddick (right) and minister for independence Jamie Hepburn (left) at the launch of the sixth paper in the Building a New Scotland series, at the V&A in Dundee. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
​Migration is a hugely important challenge and opportunity for Scotland, but is a million miles away from the debate in Westminster.

​Whether it is the sheer indifference to deaths of people crossing the Channel; containment of refugees with no recourse to public funds on barges and in poor accommodation; forced registration of Europeans who have lived as citizens for decades up until Brexit; deportation of ‘Windrush’ immigrants who have served public services all their lives or the jingoistic rhetoric of the Tory government and its MPs, the ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy of the UK is utterly despicable.

Run by a succession of heartless and vindictive Tory home secretaries, there has been a rocketing of vile anti-immigrant sentiment, particularly evident on new media outlets that give a mouthpiece—if not foghorn—to a litany of populist far-right ‘commentators’ stirring up hatred towards immigrants. Of course, the latest addition to one of these media platforms is former prime minister and proven liar, Boris Johnson.

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We can do better. That’s why the Scottish Government has released its latest paper in its ‘Building a New Scotland’ series, which outlines the better choices that can make in Scotland if we were independent. This paper ‘Migration to Scotland after Independence’ shows how we can reject the appalling immigration policies of the UK, which are forced upon us without consent.

Historically, Scotland's demographic landscape was marked by our young people seeking opportunities abroad, contributing to a diaspora rather than a growth at home. However, the tide of migration shifted over the last two decades, particularly with the positive arrivals from the European Union.

This change has transformed Scotland from a nation historically experiencing a population drain and facing potential decline, to one enjoying population growth. This enhanced Scotland's global engagement and enriched its culture, fostering a more diverse and cosmopolitan society.

But, in large part due to Brexit and the UK Government’s hostile environment, forecasts suggest that Scotland is the only country in the UK where the population is expected to start decreasing in the coming ten years. Addressing this issue, as well as the wider implications of demographic shifts is crucial, as Scotland—similar to numerous other developed nations—is seeing its population grow older.

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This paper explores how we can devise a humane, dignified and principled migration system and deliver positive outcomes for our communities and public services and, crucially, for the people who want to live, work and raise their families in Scotland.

As well as enriching Scotland culturally, people who have chosen to live and work here are helping to grow our economy – they help address skills shortages within key sectors and make an essential contribution to our population growth.

Among the proposals are practical, thought-through proposals for new visa routes. The main 'Live in Scotland' route, would outline particular criteria-based on Scotland’s needs for people to make Scotland their home and contribute here.

A new 'Scottish connections' visa would provide an immediate route post-independence for people with a connection to Scotland to return or remain here, such as those with people previous lawful residence, people with an ancestral connection; graduates who studied in Scotland for their degree; British nationals who are not British citizens; and more.

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Scotland needs immigration and, with independence, we can make it work for us. Please read the new ‘Building a New Scotland: Migration to Scotland after Independence’ paper available on the Scottish Government’s website.

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