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ARTICLE: Tory Hostile Environment Continuing to Damage the Highlands

Isn’t it great to see our summer tourism season in full swing again?

The increased footfall is welcome after such a difficult period. Still, it doesn’t come without its challenges. There remain significant housing and staffing problems across the constituency. I have been catching up with local operators to discuss these difficulties.

Before Brexit, our tourism sector was enriched each year by European workers. Brexit means hoteliers and tourism operators no longer have access to these workers. This makes staffing a busy summer season difficult.

While tourism businesses are incredibly resilient, the situation is untenable and needs action.

The hospitality industry predicted this outcome. They warned UK Ministers that ending freedom of movement would be catastrophic for the sector. They pleaded with the UK Government to rethink its immigration plans. Their calls were ignored then and now.

I raised the staffing crisis again in Parliament last week, and I will continue to represent the interests of our local businesses on this matter.

There is, of course, another part to this story –

This month marks ten years since we heard the term hostile environment proudly boasted from the corridors of Westminster. The then Home Secretary, Theresa May, ushered in a regime of policy changes that amounted to a policy attack on migrants and refugees.

I remember thinking it doesn’t get worse than this. How little did I know?

The policy announcement wasn’t just right-wing appeasing rhetoric either – because what followed was a litany of hostile decisions and two policy affirming Immigration bills.

The impacts of which still reverberate across our communities. Even here in our constituency, families have been torn apart. People who’d lived and worked here for years lost their rights overnight. They couldn’t go to a hospital; they lost jobs, their homes and their rights to any help. All this because a Government policy change viewed them as ‘illegal’.

Readers will recall the most high-profile instance of this was the Windrush Scandal. These people came from Commonwealth countries between the 1940s and 1973 to support the UK’s post-war labour shortage. They came at the request of the UK Government. They built lives and families here. They paid their taxes here – this was – is their home.

Yet like others, they were caught in the web of the hostile environment regime.

The hostile environment legislative framework saw their rights removed overnight. Their lives were destroyed. Some were even deported, while others were sent to immigration removal centres.

When the scandal came to light, again, we thought, surely it can’t get worse – and then it did.

The ‘Go Home’ vans came. The vile xenophobic Brexit campaign was launched.

Men, women and children fleeing persecution from war-torn countries continue to be pushed back and refused sanctuary.

Now, we have disgusting proposals to send people to Rwanda – an issue many of you have been in touch with me about to share your anger, as you have done with other hostile environment policies.

My mailbox shows me that most folk care deeply about being good global citizens – that we care about every human life and fairness as a community.

Ten years in, the tories haven’t wavered in their hostile environment approach. This is their ideology – and it’s an ideology that has been rejected by Scotland for over 50 years.


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