The UK authorities has come underneath hearth in latest weeks for its “hostile atmosphere” immigration coverage, which many take into account a contributing issue to the tragic deaths of 27 migrants making an attempt to cross the English Channel in November. However what about nations which undertake a pro-immigration stance and politics? And the way does a state presenting itself as inclusive impression migrants’ experiences of life in it?
In Scotland, there’s a well-liked notion that the nation is open, inclusive and outward-looking. Within the final 50 years the nation has voted for extra centre-left political events, resulting in a widespread sense of “no drawback right here” in relation to racism. This types the premise of what we time period “Scottish distinctiveness” in our newest analysis.
However this doesn’t at all times have a completely humanitarian foundation. Earlier analysis has highlighted how a pro-immigration political stance has been utilized in quite a few nationalist sub-state areas – equivalent to South Tyrol in Italy, Catalonia in Spain and Quebec in Canada – to achieve political benefit. This has allowed minority nationalist political events to current themselves as extra caring and progressive than the bigger state authorities, which is often liable for setting immigration quotas.
The place Scottish distinctiveness comes from
Whereas Scotland doesn’t have the authority to set its personal immigration quotas (this can be a reserved UK authorities matter), our analysis has discovered that political teams within the nation have been ready to make use of insurance policies and public speeches to place the nation as extra open and progressive than the remainder of the UK.
For instance, the New Scots Technique 2018-2022 is designed to help the “imaginative and prescient of a welcoming Scotland”. Our evaluation of political speech has additionally proven proof of this development. In a Scottish Nationwide Social gathering convention speech in 2016, first minister Nicola Sturgeon stated:
Inclusion is the guideline for all the pieces we do. It encapsulates what we stand for as a celebration and it describes the sort of nation we would like Scotland to be. A rustic the place we worth individuals for the contribution they make.
In one other instance, in April 2019, Sturgeon acknowledged:
In Scotland, we all know … that the Westminster strategy to migration – in addition to being deeply inhumane – poses an existential menace to our future prosperity.
Politicians speaking about inclusivity is at all times to be lauded, however these examples display how immigration coverage and the financial contribution of migrants are sometimes aligned. In Scotland, it’s because the nation has an ageing inhabitants and destructive inhabitants development and is in want of migrants to work in public service jobs to safe the long run financial system. So though politicians current Scotland as inclusive in direction of migrants, that is typically based mostly on the nation’s financial wants.
However crucially, Scotland’s pro-immigration narrative additionally has a profound impact on how migrants relate their experiences of the nation.
Once we spoke to younger grownup migrants dwelling in Glasgow, we discovered that the thought of Scottish distinctiveness positioned numerous expectations upon them. For instance, it led interviewees to low cost the seriousness of their experiences of racism. To them, calling this out can be seen as speaking down the nation’s fame and make them seem ungrateful within the eyes of the Scottish public.
Contributors recounted traumatic tales of racial discrimination. One younger Roma man from Glasgow instructed us that he had been repeatedly attacked by an anti-immigrant gang at college within the south-side of town. The prevalence of anti-Roma sentiment in Glasgow has been nicely documented.
In one other occasion, a bus driver repeatedly refused journey to a younger refugee and and known as the police to confirm their age. Contributors additionally instructed us that they might not declare to be Scottish with out first “wanting or showing Scottish”. Many felt that as individuals of color and with out a Scottish accent they had been unable to assert this identification. This can be a discovering which contradicts the Scottish authorities’s One Scotland message.
Confirming the narrative
Regardless of these obstacles and traumatic experiences, the younger grownup migrants we spoke with strongly believed that Scotland was welcoming to everybody as a result of the nation “wants extra individuals” and since that they had been given equal alternatives to check and work. Some arrived as refugees in Scotland and had been notably grateful to flee the persecution that they had skilled in their very own nations. This may occasionally clarify why they didn’t need to seem important of any racism or discrimination they skilled.
Some justified their view of Scottish distinctiveness with the opinion that Scotland was extra welcoming to migrants than England, which was perceived as illiberal and extra racially segregated. One instructed us:
If you come to Scotland and also you hear it’s a welcoming place it sort of places your thoughts relaxed. It’s a lot simpler than going to London or some locations down south … [where you hear] about knife crime and hate crime and stuff like that.
Town motto of “Individuals Make Glasgow” was additionally used for instance of the welcoming and open nature of Scottish individuals. Contributors sometimes attributed racist attitudes to a minority of the inhabitants – often older individuals and soccer followers.
These findings recommend that the thought of the particular Scottish distinctiveness embraced by many Scots performs an necessary function in shaping the opinions of migrants dwelling in Scotland. However their precise experiences reveal that the nation is just not as tolerant because it likes to suppose it’s.
Within the coming years, we’re more likely to see additional claims of Scottish distinctiveness because the SNP authorities seeks to achieve help for a second independence referendum. Whereas it’s encouraging that Scotland embraces a pro-immigration stance, we also needs to pay attention to how the difficulty can be utilized as a political software.
Marcus Nicolson doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.