THE deceit that lies at the heart of the UK Government’s hostile environment for immigrants is as insidious as it’s transparent. It includes a falsehood that Conservatives and their acolytes persistently propagate when people of other races and cultures seek shelter or sanctuary on these shores: if we don’t monitor them closely they’ll become an unsustainable burden.

We’ll set aside for a moment the myth that undocumented migrants don’t pay for their keep. First, let’s consider this: the party currently moving an Immigration Bill through parliament has long been supported by individuals and corporations who have cost this country billions in tax avoidance.

Having been assisted in their wealth accumulation by Britain’s benevolent economic and service infrastructure – health, policing, food production and a willing, well-trained workforce – they choose to dodge their moral duty to pay their due taxable share.

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The UK’s tax gap – the amount lost through evasion, error and avoidance – currently excludes the practice of profit-shifting by global corporations like Google and Facebook. A study by TaxWatch carried by The Independent two years ago, was largely overlooked by our politicians.

It found that profits from just five US tech giants contributed to losses of £1bn a year for the UK treasury. The Tories choose to overlook such accounting trifles but mercilessly intimidate immigrants and refugees for costing us a crudely-assumed and unspecified quantum of revenue.

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This assertion too fails scrutiny. In 2010, Professor Ian Gordon of the London School of Economics found that “probably two thirds” of illegal workers paid “some kind of taxes and national insurance”. Yet their illegal status prevented them accessing the services they were helping to fund. More recent surveys have consistently shown that amongst overseas workers – both non-EU and EU – rates of absenteeism, illness and anti-social behaviour were lower than in the host population.

Simply put, the vast majority of these people in their gratitude at living and working in the UK seem far more eager to contribute than corporations whose profits in a single hour outstrip what they will earn (or cost) in their lifetimes.

Over the last 15 months, despite the Conservatives’ attempts to portray them as undesirables during a poisonous Brexit campaign, we’ve had cause to be thankful that many of them still chose to stay here. For where would many of us have been if their care, compassion and skill had been lost to the NHS?

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics and the Nuffield Trust show that “people born outside the UK account for almost a quarter of all staff working in hospitals and a fifth of all health and social care staff in the UK”. Yet the Home Secretary, Priti Patel has chosen to target them in her Immigration Bill.


Now, they face being rated as economic units and stripped of all humanity, in an income-based points system. A Tory administration exposed as operating a mafia enterprise in PPE contracts during Covid-19 will decide if they are deemed to be sufficiently skilled and affluent to be allowed to stay here.

The 1951 Refugee Convention was drawn up to protect asylum-seekers from the iniquities that Ms Patel seeks to impose 70 years later. It protects them from persecution on the grounds of their method of entry. The Home Secretary, though, wants to criminalise and round up those whom she considers to have entered the UK ‘irregularly’.

It’s perhaps the most iniquitous measure in a bill whose essential inhumanity recalls some of the worst excesses of the British Empire as it enriched itself on the looting and genocide of races and countries it considered inferior throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

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This country now has a Home Secretary who wants our armed forces to intercept small craft in the English Channel on the “suspicion” they’re carrying people seeking to enter the country illegally. They would then be forced to turn round and be redirected away from the UK.

There’s a reason why no other European country supports these asylum plans: they’re illegal under international law. Last week, the United Nations reacted with incredulity, describing them as so egregiously harmful that they risked the UK’s “global credibility”.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees has already stated his belief that what is being proposed would undermine long-standing international concordats to protect refugees. Priti Patel and the Government which has indulged her own misdemeanours in office over several years are turning Britain into a pariah state.

On Thursday, though, Glasgow took matters into its own hands and said a resounding No to the UK Home Office. This city has a history of repelling the violent and illegal excesses of authoritarianism. In Pollokshields, south of the Clyde, it told an outlaw Home Secretary that her writ doesn’t run here when it seeks to intimidate and menace those whom we consider to be our own.

We call them our own not because we have rated them by income, skill or length of residency, but on the basis of our shared humanity. While they’re here, they’re ours and, as such, will be entitled to our full protection and support. In this, we’ll do all we can to make their stay permanent because without these people from a different continent and a different culture and a different colour Glasgow is nothing. Without their forbears’ skill, industry and creativity over many generations this city would be a much lesser place. They and their kin make this city worth living in.

In those men whom the UK Government attempted to eject from a community celebrating a sacred day we see ourselves. Once, not so long ago, my own people were starved and oppressed by the forces of the British Crown and fled here seeking refuge. That we’re still here and thriving owes much to the sort of kindness and compassion that we witnessed on Kenmure Street on Thursday. We belong to Glasgow now and so do all the cultures and nationalities that this soft city holds in its rough paws.

If Priti Patel and her cruel administration think they’re hard enough then by all means, come ahead. We’ll be waiting for them again.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.