I watched the most recent ITV debate with a mixture of deja-vu and disgust. During the independence referendum we had all the scare stories thrown at us; that jobs would be at risk, investment would be at risk, that trade and immigration barriers would be erected, that freedom of movement would be lost or restricted, and that old favourite; the uncertainty. I heard all of those arguments aired again, and sadly Nicola Sturgeon stooped to the level where even she was using them. Were it not for the possibility that a Scottish Remain vote might trigger a new independence referendum then I am convinced that Scottish Remain support would be far less than it currently is.
Likewise I heard all the opposing views rehashed; No clear plan, that assertions and aspirations can’t be guaranteed. All that was missing was the currency and the oil. It galls me to see the likes of Boris Johnson speaking about the unfairness of seeing our money go out to receive crumbs back, about unelected politicians ruling over us and about controlling our own destiny. To him these AREN’T principles, for if they were they would have surely have championed them when Scotland sought them!
Two things about the ITV debate grated with me more than anything else. The first is the idea which was floated that by staying in the EU we can somehow reform it. That, I’m afraid is Vow grade nonsense. We are voting to either remain or leave an evolving project, where we can be constantly outvoted on any issue, much like Scottish MP’s at Westminster. Reforming the EU is simply not on the table.
The second issue which I took extreme issue with was the view made by Angela Eagle MP: that we need to immigrants to do the jobs we won’t. Previously the argument for immigration was that we needed to bring in skilled workers to fill the “skills gap”. Clearly this gap has been filled now that Ms Eagle’s argument is the most oft used nowadays. How utterly crushing must it be for unemployed people who would desperately take a job, any job, to be told by some MP on a fat salary plus expenses that they don’t want to work? I’ve recently met a French woman stacking shelves in a supermarket, a Spaniard serving coffee and a Polish man working in a bar serving beer. Are we to seriously believe that unemployed Scots don’t want these jobs? Of course they do! But when employers switch from employing a local workforce to an immigrant workforce you can be damn sure it isn’t because the locals no longer want to work. Businesses do so because they have found a new pool of people they view as easily exploited; less knowledgeable of their rights, less likely to become trade unionised and more easily coerced to accept poorer terms and conditions.
Immigration isn’t a bad thing, and within the EU it works both ways, but often it is simply exploited by big business. That’s to be expected. Few business people make money by being nice or fair or generous. But for politicians to paint our need for immigration as a result of our unwillingness to work, that just isn’t on.