Tom Harris Response

27 November 2005

Sir,

I would have thought after his municipal Labour bovver boy performance on the Politics Show on Sunday that a long period of quiet reflection would have been more seemly for Tom Harris MP, but I do welcome his entry into the debate on Scotland's need for a distinct asylum policy. Sadly his attempt to justify London's control of asylum is as poor as the policy itself.

Mr Harris is trying to justify the unjustifiable. We are said to be living in the best small country in the world. Yet people are dragged from their beds before dawn in order to be thrown out of said country. Mr Harris evidently thinks that is OK and leaps in to attack anyone who speaks out, I do not.

Scotland's needs are different. Immigration and asylum issues are different here, our First Minister himself has admitted it in creating the Fresh Talent initiative. Population decline is our biggest national threat. It is at the very least a clear case of extremely "un-joined-up" government. Yet Mr Harris all too quickly invokes spectres (nay smokescreens) of "many more [asylum seekers] from the developing world" coming to Scotland, except then blows his own logic by saying that they would then leave and go elsewhere. His rhetoric suits South East England, not South Glasgow.

I want to see immigration and asylum policy devolved to Scotland, and have confidence that the Scots political parties will together come up with a policy to suit Scotland's needs and ambitions. I do not prejudge what Scotland's eventual asylum policy would look like, but Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and so many other European countries, (yes, all with land borders Mr Harris) have managed well enough and in a much more humane way than that currently being practiced by the London government. That Mr Harris would rather keep the power down at Westminster demonstrates his own priorities. That he would rather dumb this debate down to nonsense about border posts demonstrates his own limitations.

Yours aye

Alyn Smith MEP
The European Parliament, Brussels