So in the midst of what has been felicitously described as a "clusterbourach", the hapless UK government has just published a disgusting guide to how UK residents of European origin can apply to buy themselves the right to stay somewhere they have already made a home and a career, paid their taxes, and often brought up a family with a British born spouse. Crassly insensitive doesn't begin to describe the appalling nature of this latest attack on common decency by an administration whose serial incompetence and callousness already knew few bounds.
This invitation to seek and fill in documentation to prove you are who you are, send it off to some nameless scribe in the Home Office, bung the government a fat fee for doing so, and then, if this profoundly insulting exercise is accepted, find yourself in a new class of numbered citizenry forever liable to status checks is disgusting. It is gross. It is disgraceful. And, to add insult to considerable personal injury, the Scottish Government has been told - instructed - that it must not pay the upfront fees of Scottish applicants. That the Scottish governent has subsequently tried to ameliorate the situation by promising to re-imburse our citizens from mainland Europe further down the line only partially addresses this outrage.
There should of course be no fee, because there should be no application necessary for anyone who has lived and worked here for years. And, if we accede to all this, it means many people who can ill afford it will have to find the money to initiate the process. But even to argue this is tacit acceptance of the frankly unacceptable. Already many productive new Scots have decided to go elsewhere rather than risk their future status. Already the numbers of potential migrants we need to keep our health service, agriculture and service industries working smoothly has dropped dramatically as would be residents have taken stock and thought the better of coming to countries which have shown scant desire to accept new talents.
But, and here's the nub of it, that last disincentive does not apply to Scotland. Over and over again the government north of the border has expressed its desire to boost inward migration and to protect the rights of those already settled here. Yet, as with detentions and deportations we have no control over our own immigration priorities; apparently no right to set our own parameters or follow our own instincts and priorities. This was bad enough when we watched families detained in a former Scottish prison. Bad enough when posses of `Home Office officials hauled families from their homes in dawn raids and took them south prior to deporting them often when the appeal process was still underway. But this latest example of sheer, malign attacks on foreign born families must be resisted with every legal, constitutional and political weapon at our disposal. Resisted too by ourselves, by Scots who have to say in the largest possible numbers and the strongest possible terms: not in our name.
This Home Office has clearly learnt little from the still unresolved scandal of the Windrush generation. It wrings its hands, and declares it a major incident when fewer than a 100 asylum seekers make hazardous crossings of the English Channel. Meanwhile averting its eyes from the thousands who have drowned in the Mediterranean seeking sanctuary with European neighbours. Refusing to accept more than a handful themselves. I have met several impressive young people who spent months crossing the continent, fleeing warfare and famine, only to find themselves exploited by traffickers before being thrown against a brick wall of bureaucracy should they finally make the UK.
I'm not naive enough to think Scotland does not harbour racists or bigots or those ignorant of the national benefits of immigration. But I do know we have taken in proportionately more refugees from places like Syria than anywhere else in the UK. I do know that alongside some prejudice born of ignorance, we are capable of great generosity of spirit. It is that spirit we need to summon now. It is these values or inclusivity and diversity which we have to trumpet abroad, all the while insisting that our own government mounts its own political resistance.
We have suffered many indignities; only capable of partial resistance to punitive welfare reforms, only able partially to keep our tax regime progessive,; largely shut out from negotiations which will deny the Scottish will on Brexit and, further down the line, sell out our fishing and farming industries. We have less clout than the ten strong DUP - those lovely people with whom John McDonnell now says Labour will be able to work.
Enough already! I have no insight into the First Minister's tactics with regard to navigating a second independence referendum. I am only too well aware of the importance of getting it right or forever haudin' oor wheesht. But there comes a time in any self respecting nation when the risk of doing something bold and right is less than the risk of cravenly doing nothing.