Politicians – not a nation – are to blame for the staggering injustice of the Windrush scandal.
Amber Rudd was yesterday scrambling to “right the wrong people have suffered” in the Windrush scandal, apologising for the “unintended and devastating” effect of its ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy.
Honest, decent, law-abiding people – many of retirement age – have been locked up, refused NHS treatment, lost their jobs and been threatened with deportation.
The Home Secretary promised compensation and for their status as British citizens to be formally recognised. Rudd has rightly described her own department’s actions as “appalling” and it would be perfectly reasonable for those actions to be despised.
However, James Dornan, the Scottish Nationalist MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, decided to apportion blame, not just upon those responsible, but upon the United Kingdom as a whole.
“I truly despise being part of the UK. I feel so sorry for those who are permanently stuck with this bunch of incompetents and bigots. At least we [Scots] have the opportunity to leave [the UK] ahead of us, all we need is the confidence in ourselves to take it,” he tweeted about the affair. For him, it seems, the UK will always be a place where such staggering injustices happen and the only solution is for Scotland to disassociate itself entirely.
But, in fact, it was the reaction by UK public opinion, expressed across the political spectrum, that forced Theresa May’s Government to hurriedly backtrack while apologising profusely and the affair may yet cost the Home Secretary her job.
So while the Conservatives have much to apologise for, the UK as a country emerges rather well. The UK is far from perfect but it is, fundamentally, a liberal democracy that values and promotes human rights, free speech and the rule of law. Dornan’s remark echoes those made by hardline Brexiteers as they continue their efforts to demonise the European Union. Exploiting any ideological splits between Scotland and the rest of the UK has long been an SNP tactic, but to “despise” the UK is to step beyond reasonable debate and will only alienate those in Scotland who are there to be convinced about independence.
The SNP should stop trying to turn the UK into a hate figure that most Scots do not recognise and concentrate instead on making a more positive case. England will always be our closest neighbour and it should be our closest friend.