One overriding concern appeared to shape yesterday's Queen's Speech: the Conservatives' preoccupation with the threat Ukip poses to their core support.

That was dismissed by Downing Street, of course, but their insistence that the speech was devised and written before last week's strong showing for Ukip in the English local elections – which it was – is disingenuous. Ukip's surge at the polls had been written in the political runes for months.

Thus along came a programme dominated by immigration. Like membership of the European Union, the other obsession of Eurosceptic Conservatives and Ukip supporters, immigration is not a priority issue in Scotland. Its current dominance of the political debate at Westminster only serves to underline the political gulf that exists between the domestic politics of the UK's two largest nations.

The moves outlined by the Government may play well in the Home Counties, but they raise a number of worrying questions. Access to the NHS for migrants is due to be limited. While so-called health tourism is an unsustainable burden on the service, does this mean GPs will have to carry out passport checks, like surrogate border officials? Landlords will be expected to check their tenants' credentials to ensure they are not illegal immigrants, but how are they supposed to know real visa documents from fakes? Will they face penalties if they get it wrong? Medical staff and landlords are likely to feel they are being put in an invidious position.

The announcement that businesses caught employing illegal labour will face bigger fines is welcome; often such workers are paid miserly wages and expected to live in miserable conditions.

However Ed Miliband's call for payment of the minimum wage to be enforced far more effectively than it is now should also be heeded. Enforcing the minimum wage would benefit businesses by creating a level playing field between employers and benefit workers by ensuring they receive a living wage.

This speech was defined as much by what it excluded as what it contained. A bill to legalise gay marriage? Absent. A bill to commit the Government to spending 0.7% of the national income on overseas aid? Absent. The spectre of Ukip can once again be seen behind the decisions to pull those measures. LibDem supporters, among others, will be heartened that Nick Clegg used his influence to block the so-called "snoopers' charter", which would have given the security services powers to access records of individuals' email use, but those hoping to see progressive pledges to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes and minimum pricing for alcohol south of the Border, will be disappointed by their absence.

Scotland now has the opportunity to go its own way on plain cigarette packaging as it is already doing on minimum alcohol pricing. Scotland's leadership, when it comes to public health measures, is something of which the Scottish Government and Parliament can be proud – and will hopefully be emulated in years to come by a Westminster Government more focused on progressive policy-making.