Monday, 6 February 2012

Herding Cattle Or Herding Cats?

When working through local parish records in Doncaster’s Library many years ago one of the sadder entries was simply “Scottish Drover, name unknown”. The old drove roads now may be present highways but as often as not are just paths across the hills and fields, their history almost forgotten.

Across the Atlantic Islands for some time there has been precious little restriction on the movement of people or goods despite the attempts to foist either ancient tribalism or recent faux nationalism on one group or another. For a while the appreciation of the practical inconveniences and problems of division have overcome other considerations.

The issue of population movement and migration is one of the several key and complicated issues that could arise in the event of Scotland detaching itself from Westminster in political separatism. It is not simply a question of what may or may not happen at the land border, it is more than that.

There are some bits and pieces of history left over to raise questions. If Scotland has a model of intended population structure and therefore an immigration policy that departs either to a greater or lesser extent from that of the other parts of the Atlantic Isles, it all becomes very intricate and difficult to manage.

There is the Isle of Man, so who does Kelly belong to? There is Northern Ireland, there is the Republic of Ireland which has a number of residual benefits in the UK, there is Wales and as well as Man a number of Crown Dependencies to take account of. This is quite apart from who in England might want to claim Scottish citizenship.

I assume the man from Alloway who I sat next to on a train, currently resident in Dover for work purposes might have that status. But if Scotland stays in the EU and England leaves, he might decide to commute to Dover from Calais to retain his rights in Scotland.

If Northern Ireland opts to retain the English connection but the Republic remains in the EU it is possible that different migration and citizenship rules might well then favour those from Bantry above those from Ballymoney. You need to know your Ireland to appreciate that one.

This game could go on and on working its way through all the variables and all the possibilities for confusion and complication. Scotland may well have its place amongst the nations between Saudi Arabia and Senegal but just who would its nationals be?

Would they include the hordes of silver haired human rights claimants from England wanting the better benefits currently scrambling to find themselves a tartan from great great grandmother from Greenock? Or those English who can afford the second residence in their children’s names for university education purposes?

The idea of a fenced, lit, land mined border with guards sweeping up pensioners for the migrant hostel in an extension to Barlinnie is an interesting one, who knows?

The crucial question is what kind of population model and structure is the SNP talking about and what kind of migration policy? Is it a Bahamas style one? Is it a Dubai style one? Is it a Norwegian one? Is it a Hong Kong model? Given its model what kind of population structure should Scotland be looking to have by 2050?

At present there is only the silence of Scottish Drover.

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