By the hugely troubling instance of these lawmakers telling people it’s OK to break the law.
Their comments last week have the potential to not only destabilise the peace and safety on our streets we should expect to enjoy – it also, ironically, makes any possibility of Scotland seceding from the UK even more unlikely – although that was obviously not their intention.
An attempt to take into custody for deportation two illegal immigrants was thwarted by politicians from the SNP and Labour giving encouragement and support to demonstrators mobbing a vehicle so it could not depart without causing injury to those blocking its way.
It just so happened that Kenmure Street in Pollokshields, where the men were living, is in Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency and the detention happened on the day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
The call to action included Labour MSP Paul Sweeney, who issued a tweet that even included a map of how to get to Kenmure Street where the stand-off was happening.
There are other facts that are not so well known. The two immigrants involved were overstayers, having previously been granted time-limited access to study in our country, but who had remained on beyond that period without permission and were therefore subject to being sent home.
There were various rights of appeal and consideration of their case with legal representation for the men, but these had been exhausted over ten years and the standard process of collection and transfer back to their country of origin – which happens somewhere across the UK every day of the week – was initiated.
Despite inflammatory insinuations the men were Muslim and detaining them during Eid was insulting and inflammatory, they were in fact both Sikhs from India.
By supporting the appearance of a mob in Pollokshields – an area where a localised rise in Covid is enough of a concern that the same SNP Government abandoned at the last minute its plans for the opening of hospitality in Glasgow – Ms Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf have put Glaswegians in harm’s way.
An additional spread of Covid through the gathering of demonstrators – with consequential casualties drawn from people not even on the streets – cannot be ruled out.
By supporting this one mob, the First Minister and Mr Yousaf gave licence for any other mob to gather. Legislators cannot pick and choose the existing laws that should be obeyed, nor can they rule that the treatment of one mob should be different from another, whatever its moral, political or religious virtues.
Needless to say within two days another gathering, this time of Rangers supporters celebrating their league title win on Saturday, was roundly condemned by the justice secretary, lacking the self-awareness that by his own earlier actions he had normalised that gathering.
By supporting the obstruction of justice, derived from due legal process in the Scottish courts, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf gave succour and encouragement to organised crime; those human traffickers of economic migrants who, at great financial and sometimes physical cost to their victims, smuggle people into our country.
If we cannot deport through fair process illegal immigrants, then the traffickers can make the pitch that so long as they can get their victims inside the UK they will then be able to stay forever. That is a charter to support appalling crimes where people lose their savings and often their lives.
Looking at it from the perspective of anyone who supports Scottish independence, possibly the most amazing consequence is that by encouraging and justifying the prevention of detaining or deporting of illegal immigrants who have gone through the due process of law, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf have ensured that were Scotland to ever secede from the UK then the possibility of there being a Common Travel Agreement between Scotland and the rest of the UK is now impossible.
How could the UK even consider entering into an agreement – such as that enjoyed by citizens of the Republic of Ireland – whereby Scots are able to cross the English border, or enter the UK at any other point, without first having a visa?
If the current SNP Government chooses to not uphold the UK’s legal immigration processes now – which, if anything, are relatively liberal compared to most other countries – then how could the UK trust Scotland in future to not allow illegal immigrants to remain in Scotland and then travel to more economically attractive areas in England?
The prospect means not only would England have a legitimate need for a hard border at Scottish roads and railway lines entering it to check for visas, there would need to be a proper security fence erected across the border too to prevent people smuggling.
Further, even the EU will not be able to trust a Scottish Government to administer an immigration process where Scotland’s points of entry – and exit – would also become those of every other 27 EU member states.
Membership of the EU thus becomes even more problematic, if not impossible.
Given the loss of freedom of movement is a significant factor for many people in wishing to rejoin the EU (and thus vote SNP), making freedom of movement more difficult to obtain and ruling it out with England is the mother of own goals.
Ms Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf have put mob rule and insurrection before upholding the law. It must become their political undoing or Scotland shall become lawless.
- Brian Monteith is editor of ThinkScotland.org and served in the Scottish and European Parliaments for the Conservative and Brexit Parties respectively.