I won’t be the only person seeing a lot of comparisons between the Scottish independence referendum two years ago and the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Here’s another, played out as a hypothetical scenario:
So, roll-back to 2014. A referendum has been called on Scotland’s membership of the UK in which only those born in Scotland have the right to vote, disenfranchising 400,000 fellow British citizens born in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. The pro-independence campaign, Yes Scotland, losing the economic argument, believes it can instead deliver a victory by focusing on the threat of immigration, allowed by the freedom of movement within the UK. It berates the Scottish government for allowing 33,000 British citizens to enter the country each year, claiming the country is too full, or that Scottish culture is being eroded by these incomers, who don’t even bother to learn Gaelic or Scots. Many Scots no longer feel as though they recognise their own country anymore. Yes Scotland argues that the campaign does not have a problem with immigration in principle, but do we really need so many British people entering Scotland? Furthermore, their religion is incompatible with Scottish values. Anglicanism is too foreign for this Presbyterian nation, and the presence of Anglicans in our country will result in greater social upheaval.
Yes Scotland hopes the economic argument will prove their greatest asset. They argue that the Brits who are crossing north of the border are too unskilled, taking all our Scottish jobs, deflating prices, and bringing unsatisfactory social conditions with them – like, say, HIV infections. They argue Scotland should be able to take in only those who will contribute to society, which only coincidentally happens to be the wealthier Brits earning a certain income. It does not seem to matter whether these immigrants may be married to Scots, or have family in Scotland. Relatedly, they seek to make the case that leaving the UK will help Scotland’s public services. Despite the fact several of the leading figures in Yes Scotland are on record for seeking public spending cuts – some of them actually oversaw such cuts – and the end of public welfare, they argue that British immigrants put too much strain on these key services, such as healthcare and schools.
The natural conclusion, then, it to vote Yes so Scotland can regain control and take its country back. Ordinary Scots have had enough of the Scottish Government doing nothing to stem the endless flow of migrants entering our country through England. We can only achieve this by establishing an Australian-style points system, placing illegal Brits into internment camps for years before forcibly deporting them south of the border. Scotland is a great country, and will be greater if we vote Yes.
This sounds absurd, and outright offensive, right? So how come it’s seen as acceptable by a vast proportion of people when we use these terms and style of language to talk about fellow Europeans?