ATTITUDES ON IMMIGRATION: A BORDERLINE DIVIDE?

KEN HOUSTON A new YouGov/BBC poll has revealed that the attitude of Scots towards immigrants and asylum-seekers is not much different from that of the English. The conclusion no doubt caused much distress among the G12/ Media/MacChattering class, being contrary to its assertion that in Scotland the view of immigration is much more “positive” than in England. Indeed the poll was quickly followed by an extended edition of the BBC current affairs programme, Scotland 2015, in which a panel of five politicians gave their views in front of a ‘representative’ audience, which nevertheless seemed to be at least 20 per cent non-white, compared with 4 per cent for the Scottish population as a whole.

Typically, pro-immigration comments were greeted with applause while the one audience member who spoke up on behalf of those joiners and plumbers whose incomes had been depressed by foreign competition was met with stony silence. So while a majority of the Scottish population may have serious doubts about immigration, this is clearly not the case among the liberal establishment, prompting this vignette as to how it probably sees the difference in attitudes to the issue north and south of the Border.

SOUTH-EAST ENGLAND MAN An Asian family has moved in next door, meaning that we now have at least six of them in our small crescent. Bleedin’ ‘ell. It’s like living in a foreign country. I think they’re from Afghanistan…..or maybe Pakistan. Anyway, it’s somewhere ending in stan – you know, the place that’s forever on Channel 4 News and where men wear long thick beards and women keep their faces covered. I’ve been dreading this since the day our former neighbours, Bert and Doris, came round to explain they had sold to an immigrant charity. They borrowed heavily on the equity of the ‘ouse during the boom years created by that….whatsisname? that Scotch git, Gordon Brown.

They extended at the rear, fitted a luxury kitchen and built a conservatory. Turned the place into a proverbial palace, they did. Only trouble was the ‘ouse then became over-valued for this location so when they put it on the market, no one was willing to pay the asking price. That’s when the immigrant charity came along and offered just enough to clear their mortgage…..well, old Bert nearly bit their ‘and off. So that’s where we are. I’ve no idea the names of our new neighbours (although it’s certainly not Bert and Doris). The day after they moved in I turned up at their door to introduce myself, but when the man of the ‘ouse noticed the couple of cans of lager I was carrying he nearly ‘ad a fit. All I got was “sorry – later” and a door slammed in me bleedin’ face. Now, ‘e nods and smiles if we pass each other goin’ out and in but that’s about it. As far as I know the wife doesn’t speak a word of English and the kids seem to be bi-lingual, although using their first language at home, especially to communicate with the mother. It bleedin’ makes me blood boil, so it does because what’s the betting they’re behind with English at the local school and need special attention; holdin’ the education of me three kids back, that’s wot they are. As for the way Poles and Lithuanians are undercutting me roofing business (launched by me granddad when he was demobbed in 1945)…..don’t get me started.

Yep, Nigel’s definitely getting my vote at the general election. Come to think of it, this election is the last time we’ll be usin’ the local school as a polling station. Soon as it’s over, we’re sellin’ the ‘ouse and hopefully movin’ to a market town 30 miles away. That’s what two of me cousins and their families have already done. White flight it’s called and I don’t mind admittin’ being part of it. We’ve been betrayed by the political establishment in this country. When Asians congregate in the one area they are called “culturally cohesive” but when white folks do the same they’re called “racist”. England for the English I say. No, let me correct that, Britain for the British. I know I may have seemed a bit hard in the past towards Jocks, Taffies and Paddies but I was only joking, really. I mean, we’re all in this together, aren’t we? England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Talking of which, a mate of mine and his wife have just got back from one of those coach tours of Scotland and they’ve been amazed to discover how similar cities up there are to what ours were like 40 years ago. In fact, I was reading recently that Scotland is still 96 per cent white. So I might end up there one day. The way things are goin’ down here, it is a distinct possibility, Alex Salmond notwithstanding.

CENTRAL SCOTLAND MAN A lovely Asian family has just moved in next door. Isn’t that exciting? A bit of multiculturalism is what this town – this country – needs. Scotland is just so…..grey buildings and white faces. Boring, boring, boring. I haven’t spoken much to the man of the house but I do know his name is Mohammad and the family came to the UK after fleeing political persecution. In fact the night they left the country, the authorities were on their way to detain Mohammad and place his wife and children under house arrest. But somehow they were able to escape – by scheduled airline too. Yes the family managed to slip through check-in, security and passport control without being detected, despite the airport crawling with armed police and dozens of undercover government spies posing as passengers or airport employees. This story should be an inspiration to us all.

The only pity is that so many of Mohammad’s fellow countrymen are stuck at home facing the everyday threat of persecution and even death. Our government really should be offering asylum to more people like that – many, many, more. Some say Britain cannot afford to take in any more immigrants or asylum-seekers but I don’t buy that; we could easily afford it if we got rid of weapons of mass destruction and properly taxed the rich. That’s why I am so looking forward to ‘Referendum Mark 2’ and helping to make sure we get the right result this time. Scotland is much kinder, caring and community-minded than England and independence will enable our country to become a beacon of hope to the poor and dispossessed of the third world. Hopefully I will get to meet Mohammad’s wife fairly soon but for the moment she is keeping herself to herself, which is understandable given the trauma she’s been through.

She is also pregnant with, I think, her sixth child – I see the midwife calling regularly, along with, of course, an NHS interpreter. Because she has no English, Mohammad’s wife does not get out much, although apparently she thoroughly enjoys the two hours a week exclusively set aside for Muslim women at the municipal swimming baths. This is just one example of the progressive thinking at our local council, with whom I am employed as a senior social worker (my wife works as an occupational therapist for the same authority). Sadly, however, we will be leaving our new neighbours just as we are starting to get to know them because the house is going on the market next week. It’s nothing to do with the property or the area which, as I’ve already mentioned, is being enhanced by ethnic and cultural diversity. The problem is that with an influx of immigrant kids with limited English and the disadvantaged children from the local sink estate, the closest secondary school doesn’t have a very good academic reputation and our son will be due to start there in August with our daughter following just a year later.

So, we’ve decided to ‘trade up’, to use estate agent parlance, not because we particularly want to live among ‘me-me-me’ Tories (heaven forbid) but simply to gain access to the best State schooling. Yes, I do feel slightly guilty that the roll of the new school is 99.2 white and middle-class but you can’t put politics before your children’s education, can you? So this election will be our last using the local school as a polling station. Naturally both of us will be voting SNP and let’s hope that the racist bigot standing for UKIP will be given short shrift by the voters and sent homeward tae think again. Twitter: @PropPRMan

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