Readers will be aware that while we still link to articles in the Scotsman, we rarely encourage anyone to read pieces by Brian Wilson or Michael Kelly. Both generally issue furious, barely-coherent rants consumed by a blind, absolute tribal hatred of anything in any way connected to the SNP and/or independence, and amount to little more than professional trolling.
We’re not going to make an exception for Wilson’s latest, a spittle-flecked diatribe (fuelled by the Scotsman’s favourite useful idiot Jim Sillars) about how the idea that an independent Scotland could have an open border with the rUK is “ridiculous”, and that there would have to be border controls and passport checks. If you really want to read it you can go and find it for yourself.
But we thought it might be interesting to see if we could find a couple of comparable neighbouring countries (eschewing the obvious example of Ireland, which is for some reason apparently invisible to Unionists) and see how they handled it.
The Netherlands and Belgium are two nations with a great deal of shared culture and history, yet very different attitudes to immigration. The otherwise easy-going Dutch are infamously hostile to the notion of foreigners making a home in their land, with high-profile politicians like Geert Wilders building a name for themselves – even becoming known in the UK – in much the same way Nigel Farage has in England.
Belgium, on the other hand, is one of the most immigrant-filled countries on Earth. While attitudes have hardened a little in recent years (as they tend to do in most places in times of economic hardship), the Belgians still welcome newcomers more than just about anywhere else in Europe, with incredibly loose criteria for citizenship. As the link above notes:
“The Act of 1984 underwent several revisions before it was passed on March 1, 2000, allowing any foreigner legally residing in Belgium to become Belgian with a simple declaration, without a check on his or her “desire to integrate.”
Since 1985, over 300,000 foreigners have become Belgians under this provision. They participate in all social activities and may join political parties. Since 1994, many cities and regions have elected Belgians of foreign origin to political office. Some hold posts in the executive branch, evidence of their integration into both society at large and Belgium’s particular states.”
According to Brian Wilson, such a gulf between two nations which share a land border would make it inconceivable that there could be free movement across said border without checkpoints, as would-be immigrants could simply enter the more welcoming state before strolling over into the more hostile one.
Let’s take a look at the Netherlands/Belgium border:
Can we get to the grown-up debate soon, please?