AT the heart of every immigration statistic is a person’s story. Each individual has a place where they were born, where they have lived. Each person has relationships with family, friends and colleagues – and who can blame someone for trying to build a new life for themselves or improve their lot?

In our increasingly globalised world, it is not unusual for increasing numbers of people to spend time living in other countries. Before politics, I spent time teaching English in India and also studied at universities in Germany and Poland. I have spent time working in other countries around the world and when immigration systems work, issues can be mitigated or avoided entirely.

The UK’s immigration system is broken. There are hundreds and thousands of diligent and hardworking civil servants who are trying their best but are being hampered by an ideological government which is more interested in creating problems rather than resolving them.

Over the past week my team and I have had to deal with this first-hand as Muhammad Rauf Waris, a student at Stirling University and who is without parliamentary representation in Rutherglen, has been detained for several weeks and had his visa removed.

Not that these failures have dissuaded the Tories during their “Stop the Boats” week. We were treated to some colourful language from the Conservatives’ deputy chairman, Lee Anderson MP, whose bright idea to resolve the crisis of his own party’s making is to tell asylum seekers to “F*** off back to France”.

The National: A general view of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Portland Port in DorsetA general view of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Portland Port in Dorset (Image: Ben Birchall)

Meanwhile, asylum seekers were herded onto the Bibby Stockholm barge at the beginning of last week only to be taken off it again when legionella bacteria were found in the water supply. Then, tragically, six more people lost their lives on Saturday as they desperately tried to cross the English Channel, the world’s busiest shipping lane.

Not that the Labour Party’s ideas are any better. In fact, it agreed it would continue to use the barges to host migrants, allegedly for only a short while. At the same time, Starmer’s Brexit party remains doggedly opposed to freedom of movement despite workforce shortages in agriculture and social care. And it was, of course, the former prime minister Gordon Brown who notoriously said, “British jobs for British workers”.

It doesn’t really matter what metric you use – neither Labour nor the Tories have much of a plan for tackling immigration sensibly or humanely.

At the moment, the UK is spending £6 million a day on hotels housing 50,000 asylum seekers. The cost of the Bibby Stockholm is hardly cost-efficient either, with Yorkshire Bylines noting that The Savoy would be cheaper than the barge.

Meanwhile, if the Rwanda scheme for deporting people ever gets off the ground, it is estimated to cost £169,000 per person on top of the £120m that has already been spent.

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The extreme measures don’t and won’t work. If someone is risking life and limb crossing deserts and oceans, the threat of living on a barge or being deported to Rwanda is not going to deter them. Instead, all it does is create costs and more human misery for all involved – a permacrisis as it were.

An independent Scotland will have its own migration policy. Scotland needs more people but that does not mean everyone and anyone will be able to get in.

Good governance means taking sensible, pragmatic decisions in the interests of the people we serve. Good governance means both providing opportunities to those willing to help and protecting communities from those with bad intentions.

An independent Scotland will have an immigration and asylum system suited to our needs with respect for human dignity. In the meantime, instead of drawing up the drawbridge and making it nearly impossible to legally arrive on these shores, the UK should instead focus on delivering more legal routes which are easily understood.

If the UK wants to deal with the backlog of asylum claims, it needs to invest in its immigration structures so that civil servants are not overwhelmed with the caseload.

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If it seriously wants to “stop the boats” then perhaps the UK should spend less time bashing the EU and instead work constructively with the Belgian and French authorities to tackle the criminal gangs which profit off human misery?

I have not even mentioned how climate change and increasing competition over resources are likely to lead to higher numbers of people seeking refuge and a better life for themselves and their families.

Yet instead of helping others, the UK remains resolute in cutting international development funding and doing little to help others transition away from the fossil fuels which are exacerbating the climate crisis.

I do not expect the UK to do anything that would resolve the challenges caused by an overwhelmed and inadequate immigration system.

Instead, it suits both Labour and the Tories to each continually create a permacrisis which fails those seeking refuge and our communities which would benefit from their presence.

An independent Scotland can and will do better – but only with the full powers of independence and cooperating with our friends in the European Union.