Foreigner policy

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It IS not necessarily racist or xenophobic to be concerned about whether immigration policy is being managed effectively. In that sense, education secretary Mike Russell has struck the wrong note in his speech about attracting overseas students to Scotland (your report, 29 January).

There are areas south of the Border where immigration has brought social and economic gains. Equally, there are those where a disturbing ethnic divide has been allowed to develop.

It is wrong to attribute this to a Ukip-induced frenzy over foreigners.

If there are problems, they have been allowed to arise over decades. But they are problems which are qualitatively different to the experience here in Scotland. It is difficult for us to fully appreciate the real concerns of voters in England.

I don’t see, however, that those concerns would deter students from India or anywhere else from applying to a Scottish university. On the question of tuition fees for students from elsewhere in the UK after independence, Mr Russell is definitely on weak ground.

It is not really credible to put a passionate case for membership of the European Union without accepting the responsibilities that go with it.

Under the existing arrangements, it is right to charge students from the rest of these islands for tuition.

There can be no possible justification for doing so if both Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are European Union members.

It is not racist or xenophobic for Mr Russell to support charging them. It is just bad politics and he should accept that.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes

I CAN only assume that English-born SNP minister Mike Russell suffers from an acute form of self-loathing due to the place of his birth. Of course, in this, he is not alone in his party.

However, the intemperate language he used in his speech accusing the government of “xenophobia” over its immigration policy really takes the biscuit.

Mr Russell must be alone in being unable to recognise the phenomenal level of hypocrisy in his words.

For a party that already discriminates against English, Welsh and Northern Irish students and which has the gall to state that it would continue this if it manages to break Scotland away from the rest of the UK is breathtaking.

The SNP loves the English so much that it cannot bear to be united with them.

To have these words uttered by a man who also defended an official website that stated that the original Northumbrian people who settled Lothian and the Borders had left Scotland – effectively stating, entirely erroneously, that Scots are a different people from those south of the Border – is, frankly, sickening.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive

Edinburgh