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The immigration falsehood

Posted on January 10, 2014 by

It says something about the baleful influence of the right-wing press (not to mention Tory, UKIP and Labour politicians desperate to seek its favour) that some people in Scotland mention immigration as a reason for voting No.


Of the many scare stories originating south of the border, this one is among the least applicable to Scotland. (But is still perpetuated in the media because no major Scottish newspapers are actually owned here.) Scotland needs immigrants, and without sustained immigration over the next half century, we could be in trouble.

The graph above shows the net migration to Scotland since 1950. Only since 2003 has the number of people coming to Scotland consistently exceeded the number of those leaving, and it’ll be some time before the deficit is made up. Nor has the natural population growth (number of births compared to number of deaths) helped to make up for the loss of people to emigration.

Indeed, for several years during the 90s and early 2000s, the death rate per thousand exceeded the birth rate. We’re barely breeding fast enough to sustain our population, never mind increase it. In 1976-80, the estimated population of Scotland was 5,213,000. Thereafter it dropped, and didn’t exceed that figure again until 2010. Over those three decades, we’ve added an average of just 2,667 people a year to our numbers, and only a fraction of those have been immigrants.

By way of contrast, the 2011 census in England and Wales showed that the population there had increased by 3.7 million in a single decade, reaching a total of 56.1 million. Net migration to the UK in the same time period was 2.92 million – the vast majority migrating to England.

England’s immigration problem is thus diametrically opposed to Scotland’s. We need more people; they don’t (or so they say). And our problem is made worse if you look at the rate at which Scotland’s population is ageing:

ageing population

Quite apart from the increase in the older age groups, the worrying figure here is the drop in the number of people under 16. On these figures, without immigration we’re going to find it hard – if not impossible – to sustain a workforce large enough to help pay the pensions of those retiring. But Westminster seems utterly determined to restrict the numbers of people coming to the UK in any way it can.

Already the UK has put an end to the Tier 1 post-study work visas, replacing them with ‘Graduate Entrepreneur’ visas – capped at 1,000 students, and making life increasingly difficult for non-EU citizens wishing to work here. It may be no coincidence that the number of overseas (non EU) undergraduates at Heriot Watt is dropping – down from 853 in 2009/10 to 665 today.

And rather than offer these students – many taking courses in modern business methods – an easy opportunity to start their careers in Scotland, we’re sending them straight back into the arms of our competitors abroad. It’s a crazy policy, and one driven by a perceived problem which simply doesn’t apply in Scotland.

This is one area where Scotland and rUK are decisively not Better Together. Our needs are diametrically opposed to that of those south of the border, but while immigration policy remains a reserved matter the chances of Scotland’s requirements being taken heed of are next to non-existent, particularly in the prevailing political climate. Scotland urgently needs the ability to determine its own policy in this area.

The final insult comes when we’re told that a separate immigration policy will result in border posts at Berwick, because the rUK won’t tolerate our hordes of immigrants sneaking over the Cheviots in search of a better life away from poverty-stricken Scotland. The reverse is rather more likely. But rather than persecute them, Scots who want their pensions paid in the future should be welcoming them with open arms.

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  1. 10 01 14 12:33

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    The Devo Files: Katy Clark (North Ayrshire & Arran) | A Wilderness of Peace

109 to “The immigration falsehood”

  1. Brotyboy says:

    This is timely, Rev, although I suppose it’s no coincidence that you’ve put this out the day after the Question Time programme about the topic.
    Interestingly, and perhaps because the audience was one of the least homogeneous due no doubt to being based in London, the right wing politicians did not get a very good reception last night. 
    There is hope for us.

  2. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    What is rarely mentioned is the continuous migration of English folk into mostly rural Scotland. This is to an extent a direct reult of bonkers property prices in the south allowing retired English folk to sell up down south and buy comparable property in nice parts of Scotland for prices which leaves them with a very handy retirement bonus.

    Without them however I suspect we have actually seen a drop in the population. They are welcome and many of them will be voting YES but most of them bring nothing to the Scottish economy except some local spending

    One of the major benefits of independence will be the return of decision making at the highest levels in Scotland and the subsequent didtribution of the money spent hitherto elsewhere into the Scottish economy. Had Scotland’s population kept pace with the population of Norway since the start of last century we would now have popuation of around 10 million – and we have more than enough room for that. 

  3. Ericmac says:

    These stats confirm what we already know.  Scotland has been decimated by Westminster government over the past fifty or so years.

    When a country is impoverished, talent emigrates.  When you lose talent, you lose economic growth. Its a vicious cycle.

    We are at the breaking point today.  If we don’t break this cycle, Scotland will simply become the ‘area’ that English over population migrates to.

    One imminent problem is many people in Scotland will see immigrants as adding to their housing and employment problems.  Few will get the bigger economic picture and the fact that Labour and Westminster are responsible for the decline of Scotland not an influx of people. We have to manage this properly.  

    The few ‘snowdrops’ of economic recovery in Scotland neglects the barren, fallow infrastructure and lack of investment over previous decades.

    All Scotland needed was equality in the Union and our own taxes to spend. The hegemony out of Westminster has crippled Scotland as a nation.  
    The question is, do we have the guts and intelligence to recognise what has to be done?

  4. mogabee says:

    Excellent Andrew and undeniably easy to understand. Living in rural Argyll, where we are in need of “new blood” I was shocked to hear an older resident inform me very matter of factly, that there were “too many immigrants coming here”! Ironically, her part-time carer is from London originally…

  5. themadmurph says:

    This drives me nuts.  Scotland is 3 times the size of Belgium with less than half the population of Belgium.  We are not full, or anywhere near it.

  6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I suppose it’s no coincidence that you’ve put this out the day after the Question Time programme about the topic”

    It’s almost as if there was some sort of plan 😉

  7. desimond says:


    I remember seeing Billy Connolly bluntly stating the case for more immigration

    “Look around Scotland…theres hunners of room…let them come!”

  8. Craig M says:

    One of the great tragedies that is obvious throughout Scotland is the decimation in the rural population. Take a walk in many parts of the country, for instance in the Highlands, and you will come across ruins. There was a vibrant population in these locations in the past. It personally makes me angry when I think about this, but it is, in my opinion another Union dividend; that is depopulation. The Clearances can be viewed in many shades but depopulation is depopulation. An Independent Scotland can hopefully look at this topic in a new way, and find innovative ways to repopulate areas in new ways that take into account the unique circumstances that are found in rural Scotland.

  9. bjsalba says:

    The problem is not our falling population, but the cause of that fall. Westminster does not invest in anywhere outside London, which is why so many young folk have to leave to find a decent job.
    Independence will sort that problem.

  10. Bugger [the Panda] says:

    We could also do with some decent footballing immigrants, like the French did.

  11. yerkitbreeks says:

    @ Dave McEwan Hill – many of these rural purchases though are huge and roll on the results of SG’s Land Reforn Review Group. If they’ve any sense they’ll introduce a land tax escalater so that farmland can be regenerated by young farmers able to start new enterprises. 200 – 400 acres well farmed ( rather than 50000 of some estates ) could support a family.

  12. Gray says:

    Thank goodness we don’t have a population of 10 million.
    Just because so many other countries are over-populated doesn’t make it right.
    How much more of the beautiful Scottish countryside would we wish to lose to house all these folk?

  13. kalmar says:

    I think one of the attractions of Scotland is that it’s not as grossly overcrowded as England seems to be (well, Yorkshire on downwards anyway). 
    A static population is not necessarily a bad thing in my view – that way you don’t end up far exceeding the natural resources of your territory and in dubious situations with regards to food and energy. 
    Likewise, the continual chasing of financial growth..  Post 2008, is that still the default ambition?

  14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “How much more of the beautiful Scottish countryside would we wish to lose to house all these folk?”

    Why would we be housing them in the countryside?

  15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I think one of the attractions of Scotland is that it’s not as grossly overcrowded as England seems to be (well, Yorkshire on downwards anyway).”

    Sure. But there’s a LOT of middle ground between the two. England’s population density is something like SIX TIMES that of Scotland, and England still manages to struggle by.

  16. The Man in the Jar says:

    Thanks Andrew. A very timeous article and could have been “tailor made” for a couple of No voters that I know.

  17. Yodhrin says:

    Lets be honest themadmurph, no part of the UK is “full”, we have one of the lowest population densities in the developed world, and even if you take Scotland out, it’s still nowhere near the level of the countries with serious overcrowding.

    It really depresses me how many people down south can’t seem to grasp that the problem isn’t working class Eastern Europeans who’re just trying to get by like them, or educated professionals from SE Asia who came here to study and liked it enough to remain and work here; the problem is we live in a political and socio-economic system that is designed to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of an elite, and that in fact by falling victim to the vacant mindless populism of UKIP, they’re actually acting AGAINST their own best interests as a divided, xenophobic society is easier for that elite to manipulate.

  18. Taranaich says:

    We’re barely breeding fast enough to sustain our population, never mind increase it.
    Right, you heard him, lads & lassies, stop faffing aboot on Facebook and get tae it!

  19. Gray says:

    Why would we be housing them in the countryside?
    What other term would you use to describe the green space that would be lost building new properties to house these people?

  20. Paul says:

    O/T Just received an email from Alex Rowley denting that he said the council tax should go up.

  21. kalmar says:

    Sure. But there’s a LOT of middle ground between the two. England’s population density is something like SIX TIMES that of Scotland, and England still manages to struggle by.
    Well that’s true, and a ageing/falling population clearly isn’t good.  The point about irrelevant scare stories and demonisation of certain groups in the press is totally valid too. 
    I just think we need to be careful of giving the impression that a massive increase in immigration to Scotland is a consequential (or even a desirable) outcome of independence.   “Struggle by” – well quite. 

  22. kalmar says:

    What other term would you use to describe the green space that would be lost building new properties to house these people?
    This is a good point.  Scotland doesn’t do high density development.  Look at the huge expansion of housing around Dunfermline – 10 years ago it literally was all fields around here.  
    There’s probably no good arguments to say this shouldn’t happen either, it does seem a bit of a shame though.

  23. famous15 says:

    Paul please email him back and say if I called you a little liar would you please sue me. Let not Fife be known as the Lion Kingdom.

  24. Brotyboy says:

    This is timely, Rev, 
    Sorry Andrew. Credit where credit is due. I didn’t check the byline.

  25. scottish_skier says:


    Haverhill: Two landslide victories for UKIP in by-elections

    Both candidates won by an overwhelming majority – Tony Brown got 54% of the vote while Mr Firman got 64% of the vote.

  26. Gray says:

    I can speak on Dunfermline from experience. 50 odd years ago my family moved to Garvock and as a wean I used to play in the fields that surrounded that particular new housing development.
    All gone now of course .. kicked into Touch you might say 😉 (local pun)

  27. Andrew Morton says:

    I had to leave Scotland to get a promotion. As a result my two sons largely grew up in England. They both went to Oxford and both got first class degrees. One now works in London as a Director of Communications and the other is doing a Phd at Berkeley in California. Had I been working in an independent Scotland, possibly I could have risen in my profession without having to leave, my sons would have grown up and gone to university here and hopefully at least one of them could have stayed.
    Scotland isn’t being depopulated because young people want to leave, it’s because the system forces them. Many of them, like me will return home at retirement and we are contributing to the aging population. By all means welcome immigrants, but we should change conditions so that our young people don’t have to leave unless they want to.

  28. msean says:

    I don’t like all this anti immigration stuff. Those in the south east of England go on about it,but forget that the geography of their region is what has enabled their area to profit massively from the EU. My geography teacher used to call it the golden triangle (Brussels-Paris-London-Brussels). They also seem to forget that ex pats from the uk are immigrants elsewhere in Europe.

  29. panda paws says:

    Tangentially related to immigration, Rod over at Auld Acquaintance has ferreted out the deadline for registeration for a vote in the referendum. Obviously you have to fulfill the eligibility criteria but you can register up until midnight 3 September 2014.

  30. Jeannie says:

    I’m always puzzled as to why so many people I come across have a problem with immigration but no problem at all with emigration.  After all, our emigrants are, by definition, somebody else’s immigrants.
    I have relatives in England, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, France (previously in South Africa) and America.  I, myself, lived in Germany and America.  I have neighbours and friends with family abroad, too, all of whom emigrated from these shores.  I don’t remember anyone ever questioning their “right” to go and live in other countries or considering whether or not they would be welcome.  No-one ever asked whether the other country could afford them or whether they would be taking jobs away from the people who lived there, or would be paid benefits they weren’t entitled to.
    Why is it all right for us to emigrate to other countries but not all right for people for their people to emigrate to Scotland?  We just need to plan for it like other countries do.

  31. Helena Brown says:

    Hi Kalmar I am one of those living in those green fields of Dunfermline. They were nae use for farming otherwise they would still be used for that. I met a very nice man who brought us home from Edinburgh Airport in October. Romanian, been here with his family for fifteen years. We do need new blood but we need to be selective. We do have too many auld folk, we seem to be importing them as well as with some of the Southern English I say that  as an auld person myself.  We still have enough youngsters who we need to find careers for as well. There are still too many of them without work but the Government here has at least tried.

  32. Paul says:

    Famous15 I did just that and informed him that I and others were confused as to what he actually meant and that he was using the usual Labour double speak.

    Can I add as a wee boost to us that on a site called a Mike Smithson is not ruling out a Yes victory if Alex Salmond can make it a choice to the electorate of either independence or another Tory government of course as we all know it isn’t about Alex but the Yes movement but a boost just the same.

  33. Papadocx says:

    @andrew Morton 12:36
    Well said Andrew couldn’t agree more. This depopulation has been engineered or should I say the centralising around London by the establishment.

  34. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Tangentially related to immigration, Rod over at Auld Acquaintance has ferreted out the deadline for registeration for a vote in the referendum. Obviously you have to fulfill the eligibility criteria but you can register up until midnight 3 September 2014.”

    Yeah, the Herald had that date in their supplement in December.

  35. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “What other term would you use to describe the green space that would be lost building new properties to house these people?”

    Most housing isn’t built on greenfield sites – even in England, where there’s far more pressure on space.

  36. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “we have one of the lowest population densities in the developed world”

    Actually, you won’t find too many major developed nations above the UK (which in context really means England) in this list:

  37. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I just think we need to be careful of giving the impression that a massive increase in immigration to Scotland is a consequential (or even a desirable) outcome of independence.”

    I don’t think anyone’s talking about a MASSIVE increase. Just acknowledging that we need a bit more than now, not a lot less.

  38. Bubbles says:

    I love this article Stu. I’m currently on my dinner break but I will ensure my racist Tory boss gets a damn good look at this later on. Thanks for loading my guns every day.

  39. Jeannie says:

    @Andrew Morton
    Couldn’t agree more, Andrew.  Our problem in Scotland is emigration, not immigration. 
    A good friend said to me just before Christmas that Scotland was a land of broken-hearted mammies and grannies.  Her children and grandchildren are abroad and she misses them dreadfully.  So does a friend whose son is in Australia.  So does my cousin whose son and granddaughters are in Australia.  So do I when I think of my cousins in Australia and Canada and wonder what my life would be like if they had all stayed – I would know their children and our family would be even bigger than it was before they left.  It’s sparse now.
    I’m not worried about immigrants to Scotland.  I’m only sad that they too have left  broken-hearted mammies and grannies behind them too.  And it could happen to any one of us if we don’t grab this chance to build a country that will nurture and sustain our children and grandchildren and let them reach for the stars.

  40. Ericmac says:

    Here is one classic example of how a country shrinks rather than grows.  

    Scotland is uniquely placed in the richest fishing grounds in the world. The North Sea and North Atlantic is the biggest fish exporting region in the world. 

    Instead of the Scottish Fishing industry expanding with the worlds growing population, our fishing communities were sold out by Heath in 1973 to gain access to the EEC. The EEC gave unrestricted access to members countries to each others waters.  The direct cost to Scotland was the lose of thousands of jobs.  

    Scotland has an extensive coast line with suitable harbours and shelters.  We also have a massive market South of us and further South (England and the EU) 

    How is it possible that we allowed this industry to decline?

    The countries that fish around the continental shelf in the North Sea and North Atlantic…  In order of catch size….  Norway, Denmark, Spain, Iceland and UK.  

    Interestingly with only 8.4% of the population, Scotland lands over sixty percent of the UK catch of fish.

    The whole story make the EU entry / exit debacle a non event for many reasons.

  41. panda paws says:

    Maybe the Herald (with its paywall) did have the date but I didn’t know and nobody I’ve spoken to knew the date either so it makes sense to widely distribute. Anyway don’t you always say you have more readers than the Herald?

  42. Ericmac says:

    Sorry tried to edit Rev… too late.  The code must have come from my original word doc even tho I didn’t cut and paste from there directly. 

  43. An Duine Gruamach says:

    At uni, I had two friends from the US.  They both learnt Gaelic to high levels of fluency, and both took active parts in working to promote the language and its culture.  They both wanted to stay here, and continue working to revitalise a language under severe pressure.  But because our immigration policy is set according to the needs of the South East of England, some bureaucrat sitting at a desk in London decided that we don’t need them, and made them go away. 
    Luckily, one of them has since been able to return to do a Masters, but will he be able to work here after that?

  44. Andrew Morton says:

    @Jeannie 1.08pm
    You’re absolutely right Jeannie. My wife has three sons, an architect, a doctor and a head buyer. none of them live in Scotland either and for identical reasons. Imagine if all these talented young people had stayed in Scotland, we’d be bursting with intelligent motivated people. Perhaps a Yes vote will bring that about.

  45. kalmar says:

    Hi Kalmar I am one of those living in those green fields of Dunfermline. They were nae use for farming otherwise they would still be used for that.
    Nice to meet you Helena!  I’d argue that point – whether or not they were particularly good farmland, it was a green space, farmed arable land and zoned as such, which suddenly had it’s sale value increased by.. 10x? or more, at the stroke of a Fife Planning Dept. pen..  No good for farming after that, for sure!
    Yes, you’d think green space is more under pressure in England, but it’s also more zealously guarded by conservative (small c) town councils and the like.  I hardly think many objected to those fields disappearing around Dunfermline, even if they had a forum to do so!  Again, I just think it’s a shame to see so much land swallowed up beneath (no offence) fairly boring estates of homes and Tescos and the like.  We need to be careful about allowing such sprawl just because we have lots of relatively cheap land.  They’re not making any more of it.

  46. Kev says:

    With regard to rural areas, I think a lot of the blame for de-population lies in the fact that nearly half of Scotland’s private land is owned by just 432 individuals, as pointed out in the BBC’s “Men Who Own Scotland” programme during the week. Most of these people don’t reside here and their land is owned by companies that are registered abroad so don’t even pay any taxes on profits made from activities on the land.
    Thankfully, the SNP have commissioned a report into the matter and they have already committed to doubling land available to community ownership by 2020 which will hopefully re-populate and revitalise these areas. I love the sparse Highland landscape as much as the next man, but don’t worry it ain’t ever going to become like the central belt. Its just plain wrong that a handful of men who, because their ancestors fought for Scottish Kings 600 odd years ago, own whole areas the size of Greater Glasgow and do sod all with them…

  47. CameronB says:

    Sorry Braco, but the more I read or hear Slavoj Žižek, the more I think he is on to something. He does have a rather large brain, might he be someone to try to interview Rev?
    “For example, my conflict with my radical leftist friends is when they want total openness and so on. I say to them, are you aware that anti-immigrant are mostly spontaneous, lower working-class attitudes? They talk as if some big imperialist power centre decides to be against immigrants. No! If anything, capital is more liberal about immigrants. So, I think this is not a good thing – I think of all these theorists, like Giddens and Held, who are left-wing, but left within the establishment …”
    And on the other side of the fence, we are told the SG’s land reforms make our FM a copycat Robert Mugabe, and our entire rural economy is dependent on ‘white settlers’. Who’d have thunk?

  48. alexicon says:

    “O/T Just received an email from Alex Rowley denting that he said the council tax should go up.”
    Paul you could print off copies of the quote from the source where he said the CT should go up, then post them through the doors on your street, or wider if you have the time and the resources.
    Every little helps.

  49. Ellie says:

    I have to agree with those who say it’s not about how many migrants come to Scotland; it’s how many are leaving.  That’s what we need to stop, that’s what we need to reverse; I have friends in London who went for jobs and would love to come home but with young families they don’t feel at present they can, because the careers – not just the jobs – that they want simply aren’t here.

  50. Jingly Jangly says:

    An Duine Gruamach
    As long as its after Sept 19th he finishes there going to be no problem!!!

  51. Al says:

    Rev. Stuart Campbell says:
    10 January, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Actually, you won’t find too many major developed nations above the UK (which in context really means England) in this list:

    True, if you exclude small island states, only Taiwan, South Korea, Nethlands, Israel and Belgium have higher densities.

    Immigration isn’t clearly a left or right issue on the political spectrum, and there are legitimate concerns against it. I don’t see why a relatively stable population is such a bad thing. Yes, a growing dependency ratio creates strains. But increasing the birthrate / immigration to counteract this becomes a neverending argument, as those at the bottom of the population pyramid ultimately rise to the top.

  52. Ken500 says:

    The Scottish gov will have to implement a Conservation policy in the North Sea even if Scotland leaves the EU. The fisherman overfished the seas. They will admit it in private but no in public. Scottish fisherman were £millionaires from over fishing. If proper conservation methods are not implemented. There will be no fishing industry because there are no fish. Immigrants work in the fishing industry, Oil, farming, tourist, care, NHS etc without these workers the Scottish economy would decline. Often immigrants work, long hours for low pay.

    Most countries in the world would have an immigration policy, relevant to it’s economy, including Scotland. In Scotland the does not need to involve a border agency, roaming the countryside trying to find a couple Indian cooks. At this rate there will be no chance of a good spicy curry.

    The attacks by a (criminal) right wing facist party on a small number (by proportion) of hardworking, vulnerable people is a disgrace. They did not cause the recession. Criminal bankers and tax evaders (who support and protect, the right wing Party of criminals) along with the right wing tax evading MSM groups and the Westminster controlled MSM. Westminster illegal wars and foreign policies destabilise the world causing immigration. Causing dissention and racial distress.

    The reason why there are no funds for housing, proper healthcare and education etc are the policies of Westminster government. The monies wasted by Westminster government on multinational (foreign) tax evasion through the City of London, damaging British business. HMRC not fitbfor purpose. The illegal wars, redundant weaponry, poor energy decision etc causing migration are Westminster decisions. 5% of workers have not caused 7% unemployment. It is an impossible figure. The reason why immigrants migrate to London S/E are Westminster policies made decisions and have been since 1928.

    The reason why a comparable small S/E London area is congested and overpopulated is Westminster centrist, economic, foreign and social policies. Have they never flown in an aircraft over Britain and viewed how many areas are empty, especially in Scotland. In most industrialise, democracies in Europe, (without immigration) the population is falling because of better, universal healthcare.

    There are advantages of a more elderly population. Pensioners pay tax, i.e. more pensioners pay more tax. The elderly do, what they have always done, pay their dues and their way. Get off their back.

  53. kalmar says:

    In Scotland the does not need to involve a border agency, roaming the countryside trying to find a couple Indian cooks. At this rate there will be no chance of a good spicy curry.
    Sorry, a little bit OT but I had a little chuckle at this, recalling the below story about a curry place I happen to visit quite often (very good spicy curries)…

    Two illegal workers were detained at an Aberdeenshire restaurant, the UK Border Agency has said.
    Officers targeted Echt Tandoori on Thursday night and two Bangladeshi men will now be removed from the UK.
    The business will be served with a penalty notice, asking for evidence of checks that were made.
    Adam Scarcliffe, assistant director of the UK Border Agency in Scotland, said: “Offenders should know that there is no hiding place.”

  54. wee162 says:

    @CameronB 1:41pm
    Immigration in this country is absolutely driven by capital. And it’s not unreasonable for people working in the industries which are most effected to have a pretty negative view of it. I’ve got family and friends who work in the building trade and in catering who’ve not being able to get work because they can’t compete with immigrants who can do the same jobs as they do and are largely young folk with much lower needs in terms of housing and providing for a family. Now they don’t hate “the polish” or anything because they aren’t arseholes, but they think the system has been absolutely gamed to drive down their living standards and increase the profits of their bosses.
    An interesting aside to this according to them is that a lot of Eastern Europeans who moved to Scotland on a supposedly short term basis and liked it enough to stay are now experiencing the exact same problems as they are as they have settled and had families, tried to get decent housing etc. Those who’ve settled in Scotland long term are still seeing younger folk in the same position as they were 5-10 years ago now replacing them.
    I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s not a radical right wing agenda for those directly experiencing the deflationary pressures on their living standards to have a bit of a problem with current immigration policy. It doesn’t necessarily make them racist or xenophobic. And no-one is talking to them about it in any serious way. One of my uncles worked in Holland and Germany for a couple of years as a brickie when he was younger and was talking to me about the fact that he was doing the exact same thing as the Poles etc are in terms of being out to earn a bit more cash. His solution was that after he was in Germany for 6 months and had picked up a bit of the language a German boy he was pally with got him to join a union. That seen him start to get paid at the same rate as Germans (who he’d previously been undercutting). 

  55. Ericmac says:


    How many of you have seen this nationwide poll?  
    Scotland’s Vote  

    Its a small company in Shetland.  It is neutral, and it is self selecting of course, but it has the potential to get huge numbers.  

  56. pmcrek says:

    I’m sure most of us are aware but for the past 200 years Scotland’s population growth rate has been half the European average. The only nations lower at that time were  Ireland and Portugal who both faced similar problems. If Scotland population growth rate was the same as Norway’s or any other EU country we’d have a population today of around 10 million.
    Spare a thought for Eire though, whose 26 counties in 1840 had a population of over 6.5 million. Today its just 4.58 million.
    To put this in perspective, in the same period the population of England has increased from about 16 million to 53 million.

  57. SquareHaggis says:

    The dates between 1980 and 2010 is significant and would tie in with the heroin epidemic that blighted so many lives here in Scotland.
    I’m hard pressed to count on the fingers of one hand the number of schoolmates to survive past the age of 30.

  58. ScotFree1320 says:

    It goes to show that the state pension is nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme, because if there aren’t enough people at the bottom of the pyramid the whole lot comes down like a pack of cards.

  59. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Gray at 12.06
    The population of Glasgow was 1.4 million in my lifetime and 1.6 million when the slums were at their worst. Its population now is just over 600,000. Believe me there is los of space in Glasgow to build houses.

  60. Doug Daniel says:

    I wonder what the UK’s population age profile would look like if countries like Spain, Italy and France said “here, have your pensioners back”?
    UK politicians really do have a nerve talking about stopping immigration. The UK would be buggered if other countries didn’t let our old codgers emigrate to retire with a sun tan.

  61. HandandShrimp says:

    Well the pension scheme was never meant to be a ponzi scheme (unlike actual ponzi schemes which are meant to behave like). It was assumed that demographic trends would continue. Increasing life expectancy (less so in Scotland) and low birth rate have scuppered the principle of relatively stable demographic trends. That isn’t to say that this can’t change. It seems to me that people are a wee bit less materialistic than they were in the 80s and 90s and there is a bit of a return to looking to families and children as a means of fulfillment. There is no guarantee that we will continue to see extended life expectancy as life style, diet and obesity take their toll.  

  62. A2 says:

    “How much more of the beautiful Scottish countryside would we wish to lose to house all these folk?”
    None, there’s already provision in our separate planning system and a great awareness of some past mistakes which would be supported by the proper fiscal/social levers we don’t have  just now.

    What we really need is greater investment in social/mixed housing on vacant & derelict land with much greater provision for green/leisure space. Just take a stroll about any of the ex commercial areas in or around the cities. Obviously there’s obsticles in getting the private sector to use these areas rather than “little boxes” in a field which is still going to be their preference while they can sell to those that want/need to commute.

    There’s plenty of empty (and blighted) land within the urban environment, unfortunately loads of it is held by developers sitting on it till “the right moment”.

    I’d also take issue with the idea that ALL countryside is by definition beautiful, that much of  our “wilderness” is in any way natural and that depopulated areas shouldn’t be re-occupied (sensibly) because it’s nicer having ruins than homes.
    Again the whole point is that of access to our elected representatives to ensure that policies are sensible and to our benefit.

  63. HandandShrimp says:

    Talking of Glasgow, the whole Scotland Street, Tradeston area has been derelict for years. There is a huge amount of space there – very brown field I know but given it is a stone’s throw from the city centre they could at least make it a car park if nothing else.

  64. Gray says:

    Back then East Kilbride, Cumbernauld and Irvine were part of the green belt.
    We learned also that folk don’t want to live in high-rise flats with recent housing tending to utilise more land area to accommodate similar numbers.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against immigration, we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns. Like so many other posters here I want to see a better Scotland where our top talent doesn’t feel that in order to make a successful life for themselves they need to emigrate.

  65. Les Wilson says:

    Ref immigrants I quite like the Aussie and Canadian idea, that they welcome people who have the skills and qualifications to contribute to the Country.
    About housing, can  I suggest there is an awful amount of flat land between Edinburgh and Berwick on Tweed! Just saying!

  66. Indy_Scot says:

    Just saw on the news that Scotland could be the ideal location for future public space travel for all of Europe.
    Is there any downside to Independence.

  67. pmcrek says:

    On the immigration front, with a living minimum wage and a better support system for those out of work we could easily support a large influx of people into Scotland without many of the “political” problems we face on this issue as part of the UK.

  68. Massie and Walker says:

    Scots emigrating for years, leaving a high level of dependency in Scotland cannot be offset by encouraging immigrants to come here now. The problem is obvously not the migrants but Scotland’s position in the race to the bottom. Independence means controlling our borders and immigration and investing our money into our young people, improving their skills and making them more useful. Inviting others from other countries to do the jobs is a cheap, short term perceived solution which only puts our unskilled youngsters further down the pecking order.

    Increasing the number of economically active to support pensions is also fraudulent. Try sharing our wealth a bit more evenly and grasp the concept that economic growth is not necessary in Scotland. How much wealth do you want before you are prepared to share any of it? Incidentally your graph shows that the proportion of immigration in Scotland is greater than that for the U.K. Malthus and I might both agree that Scotland has reached it’s carrying capacity and that much of the world has exceeded it.

  69. Gray says:

    Afraid I’m going to come across as a bit of a tree-hugger here, but it’s that sort of attitude that has caused the extinction of so many of the other species we share the planet with.
    What gives humans the right to destroy the environment that other creatures have lived on for centuries to our own benefit?

  70. Archie [not Erchie] says:

    @ Taraniach 12:06pm – Is it fun Friday on Wings yet? Just you wait coz mah digits are twitchin. 
    Extending your suggestion that Facebook is the demise of nocturnal bedroom activities it is easy to point the flying fickle finger towards Twitter and of course the worst offender WOS. So by association and ownership the Rev Stu is responsible for the decline in Scottish babies. Would you agree? 🙂

  71. Clootie says:

    The UK – “Four countries ruined by one city”

  72. pmcrek says:

    Its a fair point, in the modern era the largest impact on the environment is unsustainable economic activity which in turn promotes unsustainable consumer habits amongst the population. This is obviously exacerbated by increased economic activity, leading to a further increase in consumerism which both of course can be further increased immigration.
    There are many heads to this issue however, to sound like the tree hugger I am, if we don’t change the way our “resident” society and economy behaves, we’ll continue to destroy our environment whether we have increased immigration or not.
    Like most things, there are massive benefits of immigration and massive pitfalls, a responsible set of policies mitigates as many of the pitfalls as possible and accentuates the benefits. My apologies that that last sentence sounds like a public relations press release… 🙂

  73. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Morgan mc: We’ve written posts about it, and you’ve been warned directly and personally. Post-formatting rules apply to you the same as everyone else. Put some paragraph breaks in or you’re going to keep getting deleted.

    Wayne Brown:
    same goes for you. Nobody gets censored here for opinions, you get censored for formatting. Lack of paragraph breaks and inclusion of CITE tags are the two surest ways to see your comment vanish or get pre-moderated off here, because I have better things to do all day than clean up hundreds of comments to make them readable.

  74. chalks says:

    Well if I hadn’t met my now wife, I’d have been off.  Tried to get a legal traineeship for 4 years, on completion of a law degree and the diploma in legal practice,  eventually thought  I had one sorted, only for it to fall through due to the credit crisis in 2008. 
    If it’s a no vote I am offski, we have relatives in the US and Australia who would love to have us over.  They’ve even promised us jobs and are always on about how easy it would be for us, everyone loves the Scots.

  75. Bubbles says:

    @ Doug Daniel
    Hey, don’t disparage old codgers in that way. I have every intention of becoming one.

  76. Jimsie says:

    Gray Our environment is already destroyed. The countryside is covered in Sitka and Norway spruce plantations. Both these varieties are not native to our country. Very few areas of Scotland are completely natural, as the hand of man is evident just about everywhere with the exception of the high tops.

  77. Doug Daniel says:

    Bubbles – let no one ever accuse you of lacking ambition!

  78. kalmar says:

    @Jimsie, even a monoculture plantation is preferable to city sprawl, thanks!  It’s still natural environment even if it’s not original species, and that’s no excuse to build over it.

  79. Wayne Brown says:

    Strangely enough I am a paragraph person but spaces left between paragraphs in the comment box disappear when posted.

    In the last post (and this one) I did double spacing but the CITE got me.
    I gave up trying to rearrange the originals or delete the time thing that has planted itself in the box.

  80. Andrew Morton says:

    Every couple of days I post a list of blogs and websites on the Scotsman comments pages and have been doing this for about a month now. For balance I include Better Together and some of our zany friends such as Terry Kelly. Plainly I’ve upset someone at Better Together as I’ve just had an email from Johnston Press telling me my posts have been removed and that if I persist, I’ll be banned. The reason given was that I had included links and that I had ‘reposted’. In future I have a mind to report any No posts which include links!
    Better Together theme song: “Things Can Never Get Better”.

  81. kalmar says:

    Wayne, I know what you mean, pressing return gives you a full line break in the editor which looks OK as a paragraph break, but it’s not WYSIWYG.  Anyway, you’ve now committed the even worse sin of putting in multiple blank lines, be seeing you!

  82. desimond says:


    Scotland Street…perhaps you could raise that important housing matter to local MP Anas Sarwar as I’m sure his constituency office is right there….sadly Anas doesnt seem to be given the recent protests

  83. Jimsie says:

    @ kalmar. 4.24 It most certainly is not natural environment. Indigenous wildlife cannot survive in these plantations. I do agree however that from a scenic point of view they are prettier than an urban sprawl. When Ireland was partitioned the people in the republic said that the north got the industry and they got the scenery but you can not eat scenery. Scotland needs people and needs development if it is to compete as a modern independent country. Brigadoon we don”t want or need. 

  84. Ken500 says:

    The ‘baby boomers’ born after the War but before the Pill (medical science) 1960’s – free contraception. The population numbers will peak and fall. It’s a glip. Easily manageable. People are having smaller families. 1 or 2 children or none at all. More women are working, giving higher disposable income.Much of the ‘Welfare benefits’ spend, is because older people, especially women who worked part-time had no pension rights. 2/3 of retired women have to wait until their husband (more people stayed married for longer) retired at 65 to get their gov pension rights. People who do not have enough insurance contribution (stamps), do do get a full gov pension. That is changing in 2017?

    More people who are gradually going into retirement, have pension rights.

  85. kalmar says:

    jimsie:  You want industry?  Those plantations ARE industry, and could be quite a important one for an independent Scotland.  They fulfill other important roles in the environment too.  There’s far larger areas of Scotland full of bugger all due to sheep farming when it “should” all be indigenous mixed broadleaf forest. 
    What we don’t need is yet more endless deserts of Wimpy homes and business estates full of dead-end service industry drudgery.   Let’s have some smart development instead please.

  86. Ken500 says:

    The North of Ireland had the industry, the ship yards etc. South Ireland was more feudal. After the Partition NI went into decline. The south of Ireland grew it’s industry, and encouraged inward investment. Many (US – foreign Companies etc), established EU subsidiaries to access EU markets in Dublin. IR actually has a department in Congress, Washington, where the US Irish diasporia, works to benefit IR businesses. The IR economy achieved growth. ‘The Celtic tiger’. NI went into decline and is still heavily subsided. Soon demographically, Ireland could vote to be united.

  87. Jimsie says:

    @kalmar. We seem to be agreed at least that “smart” development would be no bad thing.

  88. Jimsie says:

    @ Ken500. Yes agreed Ken. Of course I was referring to the 1920s immediately after the formation of the Free State. It is worthwhile to mention as well that Eire did not become a full republic until 1948. It took 26 years to disentangle itself from the British state. I also agree with your view that Ireland will unite in the future but would not hazard a guess when. Westminster would like to be shot of NI as it is a money sump. Scotland may take just as long to extricate itself fully from rUK,

  89. Morag says:

    Hey, sheep farming is “industry” too, I’ll have you know.  It more or less pays my basic wages, anyway….

  90. Jimsie says:

    @Morag. The mention of sheep makes me hungry! Nothing better than a bit of lamb.

  91. Grendel says:

    Juteman (4.18) makes a very interesting point. What happens when businesses choose to employ a largely immigrant workforce, at the expense of the local workforce?

    Now, often this isn’t an overly visible thing, but on occasion it can be. I recently attended a football match , where the security was contracted out to a well known security firm. Surprisingly for the centre of Scotland there were a large number of African in their ranks, certainly disproportionate to the amount of staff deployed. I’ve noticed similar patterns in other low paid jobs as well, store security, railway ticket barriers, shop assistants, etc. Similarly in the bar and hotel industry, in some places the almost complete replacement of locally sourced labour for Eastern European labour is often remarked upon.  What opportunities are lost to those who traditionally took up that work?

    That we require immigration is unarguable. However, when we have huge amounts of unemployed people here, looking for work, do we need to import more workers whose very cheapness ensures that unemployment and the accompanying benefit bill stays high?

  92. CameronB says:

    Come on folks, Patrick Geddes was a Scot. He invented town planning (or perhaps he was working in the patent office). He at least coined the term conurbation. 🙂
    Seriously though, Scotland enjoys a highly developed and largely responsive planning system. The last time I looked, it lent heavily towards ‘brown field’ urban development and environmental protection. It might not be perfect, but I am sure it will cope with any likely influx of migrants. If not, we can surely make it work.
    Personally, I think the Green Belt policy has been ‘preserved in aspic’ for far too long. Originally responding to the conservationist lobby of the 1930’s & 40’s (largely Home Counties Tory types), who feared the green and pleasant fields of England would be swallowed by urban sprawl, Green Belts ensure city center land prices are kept artificially inflated.
    I hope I do not come across as a foam flecked market fundamentalist. I care deeply about our impact on the planet and the inter-generational tyranny we are building for our grandchildren. As has been commented on earlier though, Scotland’s original habitats have largely been replaced by more economically productive uses. IMO. the task for tomorrow should be to provide for economic growth in a manner that benefits society as a whole, or at least does as little harm as possible. I think the planning system tries to do this, though its legislative framework could probably do with a spring clean.

  93. Alan Mackintosh says:

    @ Jimsie. Granted that Sitka plantations are not as fine a woodland as native woodland, but it does support a large timber industry. It is also a very strong and light timber (used to make the Mosquito aircraft). It also improves the soil and ideally should be replaced in a second rotation by other species which are suited to the site. However we have lost sight of this and replant with more sitka. Other “exotic” species such as European Larch would also be seen as not desirable, but it has an inbuilt durability which makes it an extremely useful timber. There is a place for all species, and with the various fungal diseases kicking about at the moment, it is wise to have many eggs in the basket.

  94. A2 says:

    “Afraid I’m going to come across as a bit of a tree-hugger here, but it’s that sort of attitude that has caused the extinction of so many of the other species we share the planet with.”

    ? By suggesting use of using brown field/ ex industrial land with in cities instead of green belt? You appear to have missed my point.
    “What gives humans the right to destroy the environment that other creatures have lived on for centuries to our own benefit?”
    nothing, who’s suggesting that?

    Although this raises the idea that farm land in (or without) the green belt doesn’t destroy the natural habitat that was there in the first place. The main causes of deforestation are Agriculture and mineral extraction not residential.

    The vast majority of green belt housing schemes/new towns have been built on farm land already cleared of indigenous plants and animals not natural habitat, let’s not confuse the two. I personally don’t want to see any Green belt development and don’t think there’s any need for it even if you doubled the population.
    what I’m contesting is the idea that because something is “countryside” it is automatically beautiful (or to take the point regarding aesthetics and appearances) or of environmental value.  That what’s important is how it looks regardless of what it would be naturally
    Also most of those areas stripped of inhabitants which are capable of being repopulated sustainably aren’t in green belt or protected in any sensible way.
    Let’s also not forget that what’s actually in much our countryside right now is game for rich folk to shoot for fun and sheep, not indigenous wildlife.

  95. AlexMontrose says:

    The land built on in Scotland is less than 5%, there is loads of room for more folks to come and help make Scotland a success.

  96. A2 says:

    Hand Shrimp
    “Talking of Glasgow, the whole Scotland Street, Tradeston area has been derelict for years. There is a huge amount of space there”

    according to a bloke down the pub.
    A substantial part of the currently derelict area around and to the rear of Scotland street is owned by a single large developer who is sitting on it with proposals for mixed use.

  97. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Handand Shrimp
    Would that be a certain Fridge Magnate with good connections to Glasgow Labour, perchance and with a wee pied a terre in the Caymans?

  98. Grendel says:

    A fridge magnet?

  99. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Yep and yep.

  100. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Jimsie at 4.44
    Don’t like the sitka spruce plantations much but they have brought fallow deer, red squirrels, pine martins and woodpeckers back to this area. There was virtually none of these fifty years ago 

  101. morgan mc says:

    Good old fashioned work permits. The same as Norway and Switzerland.

  102. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    You’re quite right. The price of land due to shortage of available land to build on shot the price of housing up.
    There is a huge amount of urban land in Scotland now lying unused

  103. Chic McGregor says:

    England is over populated in terms of not being able to sustainably produce the food and drink it requires for its population
    The UK currently only produces about 60% of the food and drink its population requires, and that is with Scotland and N.I..  And even that figure is only sustainable with animal foodstuffs and chemical imports which also cannot be generated there. England on its own would not even supply half the food it requires.  That has been the case for over a hundred years.
    Of course food security, in terms of national subsistence, has never in that time been tested.  Even during WWII, with maximising resource, digging for victory and a good deal of help from Ireland Britain just about got by with strict rationing.  But then England’s population was less than 40 million, it is now well over 50 million.
    And the EU is just about break even in food production to population requirement, so as long as England remains in the EU there is some certainty of food security there.
    But the times they are a changing, enough to be causing real concerns regarding the UK’s (read England’s) food security.
    The World population is predicted to reach about 9 billion by 2050.
    The World itself seems a lot less stable.
    The transition states like China are putting much more pressure on the high end of the food market.  But difficult to complain when England has nearly 3 times the population density of China.
    And even England’s continuance in the EU is uncertain.
    Food security is back on the agenda and there have been several studies like this
    But even if food security were not an issue, it is worth noting just what a financial handicap England’s food deficit is.  
    Following figures are from memory and approximate but I’m sure they are close enough for the present purpose.  Check last DEFRA report for latest figures.
    The UK imports nearly 40 billion pounds worth of food and drink but exports only about 18 billion.  A net deficit of around £20 billion per year. And that is with Scotland (about £4 billion in whisky exports alone).
    Without Scotland England’s net agri-food deficit would be well over £20 billion.
    When all land and sea produce is considered, Agriculture, Forestry, Game produce, Fishing and aquaculture (aquaculture = mainly salmon farming, Scotland produces 90% of UK’s total and it now exceeds in value all the conventional fishing of the UK) this represents a huge loss in the sector to the UK.
    Furthermore the value added to Scottish produce in England by processing and consequent exports counted as English, is unlikely to survive independence for long.
    It all adds up to a huge in-built financial deficit for England.  
    If it were not overpopulated, then that deficit would not exist.
    The other effect is that England’s position as a seller’s market allows a great deal of pricing leverage.  This was brought home to me on a recent holiday in Munich when shopping in Aldi sud there.  We were amazed at the price difference on some goods which we saw there compared to Aldi’s here. i.e. same goods, same chain, price hike way more than any extra transportation costs.  Pricing leverage.
    In fact I have since been looking into this a little and there are a couple of snippets of interest.  
    By the by, Aldi and Lidl made major gains over Tesco et al over the Xmas period in the UK.
    Two brothers founded Aldi.  One took the North of Germany, Aldi nord, and the other the South, Aldi sud.  They similarly divided up the countries in Europe into which they would expand.  For some curious reason, UK + Ireland are run by the Aldi sud group. Contra-logical from a geographic stance as they are an ‘exclave’.
    However, the thing that you might find the most amusing from a Scottish POV.  Aldi in the UK do not permit the use of credit cards in England, but they do in Scotland.  
    Like a lot of Europeans, Germans are suspicious of credit.  But Scotland has a particular reputation in Germany for being ‘canny’ with money.  There are even things sometimes advertised as being ‘Schotten Preis’ (sp?) which indicates a very canny price.  
    No big deal really, but every Lidl helps – gie it Aldi!  🙂
    Anyway, the real issue is that, as over populated as England is, in the food and drink sector, it is really handicapping itself.
    Hopefully the food security aspect will never be tested, but regardless of that, it still means that it has a very large in built deficit which an independent Scotland does not have.
    It doesn’t need to have that, of course, except I suspect for one thing.  The ingrained egos of the ruling elite in the UK who in my opinion think the UK needs to have a similar population size to France, Germany and Italy to enable it to be ‘one of the big boys’.
    I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of English folk would be perfectly happy with just being a nice mid-sized European country that simply provided a fair, secure country for its citizens where most could reach something like their full potential.
    Trouble is, even if such pretentions were finally dropped, reducing population size to what it should be for food security and economic reasons would be extremely difficult to do in a fair and manageable way and would certainly take a very long time to accomplish.
    Immigration is one very small area where the problem of increasing overpopulation could be, logically speaking should be, looked at.  It would be crazy to stop immigration altogether because you at least need incoming productive and skillful numbers to replace those you lose by emigration and of course, there will always be a moral obligation to offer shelter to those who are genuine refugees in fear of their lives. But England is, justifiably, more than full up, if sustainable food supply is the criterion used. 
    Is it even fair to keep accepting people into a country where, if the World goes tits up, half of the country might starve?  Or which is, even if it does not, economically hamstrung by the need to net import huge amounts of food before it even starts on anything else? Certainly not just to satisfy the delusions of a ruling elite or the exploitation motives of balance-sheet fixated, strategically blind, money chasers.
    Scotland is, happily, not in that situation and we could, on that criteria, even be considered under populated.  And as someone said, hopefully some would be decent footballers.  Immigration to Scotland should be encouraged until we too are full. 
    Even though I am, coming at this from an entirely different stance, I am embarrassed at how some of it sounds similar to the UKIP crap.  But, I hope it goes without saying, that I would be incensed if immigration control, even when economically and food sustainabilty justified, was in any sense based on ethnic or nationality considerations.
    I am only basing this on the over-full nature of England which, in the above terms, it is. If any country was justified in putting up a ‘full up’ sign in Europe on the basis outlined, England is. And as long as that is the only criterion they use, then we should at least accept it as being an unfortunately justifiable reason, in those terms. 

  104. Chic McGregor says:

    P.S. Just to give you some kind of illustration.  If France had the same population density as England, its population would be over 221 million.

  105. Chic McGregor says:

    P.S.2 “this represents a huge loss in the sector to the UK.” should be “this would represent a huge loss in the sector to the rUK.”

  106. Grendel says:

    Bugger the Panda, two yeps? One for my previous question as well?
    If so, why?

  107. Andy Murray says:

    Scots labour under the illusion that they have tons of space to grow the population and house people. Scotland has a population density of 67 PSK most of whom live in the central belt. So the population density most Scots experience is closer to that of urban England i.e., in the hundreds PSK. If we accept the premise that Scotland needs more people then we would have to accept that the growth would be in the central belt and the east coast pushing population densities closer to those experienced in the SE of England – the most densely populated area of Europe.

  108. Andy r says:

    Chic McGregor makes a series of excellent points about the overpopulation issue. I shall not repet them in detail, but will carry them on in terms of the “ageing population” issue.

    I propose that we might need to consider this as an opportunity rather than an issue. After all, our traditional jobs are becoming more and more scarce in a world where moving to cheap factories abroad is an option.

    What we are left with is an economy based partly on financial services (unpopular but we’re stuck with them for now) but also on high tech automation and specialist craftsmanship – which I believe we should pursue more.

    This tpe of industry employs a smaller number of highly skilled workers – fewer people at a higher wage. With a focus on developing the required science and engineering we can have the same level of wealth production but with considerably fewer people.

    Conversely, the idea of importing large numbers of people to “support” the ageing population seems like a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem – particularly when it’s unskilled workers that are coming here.

    It’s unfortunately true that if you earn less than a certain amount per year – I think it’s around 22k – it costs the exchequer more to pay for your public services than it gets from you in tax.

    Of course, we can’t blame the low waged for this, and I support the trend of increasing the tax free allowance. But it’s nonetheless obviously true that we can’t balance the books by importing large numbers of people working at this level of wage – it will cost more than it will gain.

    We need to look at the declining birth rate – and the lower future population it represents, once the older generation have passed away – as something that might be desirable.

    It would be a happy day for me to see us dismantling excess buildings and returning the land to nature, or terraced houses being knocked into semi detached with larger gardens.

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