Immigration: Scots ‘no more tolerant than English’

Scots are no more tolerant than others in the UK when it comes to immigration, new research has suggested. Picture: Jane Barlow
Scots are no more tolerant than others in the UK when it comes to immigration, new research has suggested. Picture: Jane Barlow
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About two-thirds of Scots want to see immigration levels cut or stopped altogether, new ­research has suggested.

And just 5 per cent want to see an increase in immigration in line with the SNP Government’s plan ahead of last year’s independence referendum.

Opposition leaders said it showed there is “no real difference” between Scots and English attitudes on the issue.

A YouGov poll found that 49 per cent wanted to see less immigration, exactly the same proportion as across Britain, and 15 per cent said it should be stopped altogether. The total of 64 per cent of Scots unhappy with the current situation compares with 70per cent across the UK as a whole.

Just 5 per cent said immigration should be increased – only slightly more than in England. Some 27 per cent of Scots said immigration was good for the country, compared to 22 per cent across Britain.

And women in Scotland were more likely to want immigration cut (69 per cent) than men (60 per cent). Older people were much more likely to be against immigration, with 76 per cent of over-60s in favour of a reduction, as opposed to 43 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds.

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Survey after survey shows there are no real differences between Scotland and England when it comes to attitudes on immigration.

“Despite this, the SNP spent the entire referendum campaign trying to fool people into thinking the opposite.

“The Scottish Government has missed a great opportunity amid the UK’s economic recovery to get unemployed people into areas where workers are needed.

“That’s why we are left in a ridiculous position of having areas of high unemployment not all that far from areas of ­labour shortage.”

Sir Geoff Palmer, professor emeritus at Heriot Watt University’’s said politicians should set out the facts about Britain’s attitude to immigrants regardless of the impact it may have on their own political careers. He said: “You have the myth of the Scots being more tolerant than the English.” He added that the Scottish Government has been open about the need for more immigrants to balance the economic impact of an ageing population but “for political reasons” have not tried to give a survey of the facts.

“Politicians are worried about the fact that the British people, you know, are a bit sort of anti-foreigner and therefore they don’t want to talk about it,” he said.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said Scotland must attract “world-class talent” to fill vacancies which can’t be done by workers already based here.

“The people of Scotland recognise the value of high-skilled migrants to our economy and society, as underlined in a Migration Observatory study published last year which showed less than a quarter of Scottish respondents supported reducing the numbers of highly skilled migrants coming to Scotland. Immigration policy is currently too heavily influenced by the priorities of the south east of England.”

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