Labour’s anti-immigration stance is harming Scotland

The leader of Labour’s Scottish branch office has confirmed he will not push for the Scottish Parliament to have powers over immigration.

Anas Sarwar’s deeply disappointing rejection of devolving immigration powers follows a similar refusal to countenance the devolution of employment law. Illustrating how Labour’s leader in Scotland has been increasingly succumbing to pressure from his Westminster bosses.

Anas Sarwar has frequently struggled to show he has any influence in his own party, recently performing u-turns on his opposition to Tory policies after pressure from Westminster leader Keir Starmer.

Labour in Scotland was humiliated over its attempts to balance its previous position opposing the Tories’ welfare cuts and austerity economics with Keir Starmer’s embrace of them as Labour policy.

Speaking on the BBC Sunday Show, Anas Sarwar confirmed his party would not push for the Scottish Parliament to hold the powers over immigration.

It is obvious that Scotland faces an urgent demographic challenge, distinct from the rest of the UK – with an ageing population that is projected to fall 1.5% by 2045, while at the same time the UK population as a whole is expected to grow by almost 6%.

Over the same period, it is projected there will be a 22% fall in the number of children in Scotland and a 30% rise in the number of over 65s.

These population shifts will present significant challenges in terms of how we fund and deliver public services, requiring Scotland-specific solutions.

This challenge is being exacerbated by a hostile Westminster migration system that does not account for Scotland’s specific needs and a hard Brexit that Scotland voted against, which brought an end to free movement.

Scotland’s ageing population is one of the biggest issues future generations will face, unless action is taken today.

Devolving even certain elements of migration law would allow Scotland to chart its own course and attract the immigrants we need to contribute to our economy and public services.

Instead, both of the main Westminster parties are intent on chasing each other to the right in an effort to demonise immigrants who choose to live in the UK and contribute to our economy.

Westminster’s ideological fixation with immigration too often sees everyone from international workers to refugees used as a political football.

Furthermore, businesses are aware of the challenges Westminster’s attitude is presenting; a healthier and more pragmatic approach to the issue is needed to grow Scotland’s economy and secure the long term safety of public services.

From our farms to our universities, immigration is a vital part of Scotland’s success and it is only going to be more important going forward in ensuring our businesses, especially in rural Scotland, have the skilled workers needed to sustainably grow our economy.

With both the Tories and Labour refusing to devolve the powers over migration that would enable us to take the actions needed here in Scotland, it’s clear that only the SNP is up to the job of sensible governance over playground politics.

But the hard truth is that only with independence from Westminster’s intolerance of immigration can we address Scotland’s urgent population challenges and protect our economy and public services.