OUR cities are filled with accountants, architects - even doctors and nurses - who don't work.
These people don't work because they are asylum seekers - refugees looking for shelter and protection in our country. They are forbidden from earning a living while their application for leave to remain in the UK wends its way through the labyrinthine and often Byzantine systems of the Home Office.
We need a reminder of this country's heritage when it comes to refugees. We have a proud history of welcoming some of the world's most desperate and brutalised people to our shores because of the repression they faced at home. From the Huguenots fleeing religious terror in France in the 1500s to the 10,000 Jewish children of the Kindertransports escaping Nazi Germany, the British Isles has offered safe haven without question when needed. We should be proud of that. However, what we can't be proud of is the shambles that the refugee system has become. Stoked by scare stories, the asylum system has been choked into one of the most humiliating and inhuman policies of government.
The worst aspect of the current policy is the refusal to allow claimants to work. It is degrading and self-defeating. If we allow someone to stay in the country while they seek asylum, we should let them earn a living. The SNP's promise to allow asylum seekers to work is a brave and kind policy commitment. It will be attacked, without question, but the pledge alone offers a glimmer of the kind of country that the party says it can create in a new independent Scotland.
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