Apparently in the UK, not in an independent Scotland, Mr Murray!
Alerts today to articles in two left-leaning publications brought to mind something written recently by arch Better Togetherist, Ian Murray MP. It was his list of ten questions about Scotland’s independent future to which Mr Murray needed answers!
As an aside: he was evidently failing – and unwilling – to undertake the most basic consideration for himself (or on behalf of his constituents) of the obvious options available to an independent Scotland, as they are to other normal independent nation-states. And by implication he seemed, oddly, to be discounting the significant, additional agency that will come immediately to the elected representatives of an independent Scotland’s parliament. However, that is not my focus here.
It was one of Mr Murray’s questions that came to mind: ‘What would the eligibility criteria be for citizenship of an independent Scotland?’ This is just such a readily resolvable issue in which many stakeholders – and political parties – in Scotland will have and should input views. Will Mr Murray and his party opt to decline to contribute?
Citizenship in jeopardy?
The New Statesman has just published this: ‘Exclusive: British citizenship of six million people could be jeopardised by Home Office plans – two in five people in England and Wales from an ethnic minority background could become eligible to be deprived of their citizen status without warning.’
(The focus on England and Wales here is due only to the scope of the statistical analysis undertaken not the territorial scope of the planned legislation.)
The article reports that clause nine of the Westminster government’s Nationality and Borders Bill states that the government does not need to notify those deprived of their citizenship if it does not have their contact details, or if it is “for any other reason” not “reasonably practicable” to do so. It also states that notice should not be given if it is “in the public interest” not to do so. Campaigners say these new powers would make it harder for those who had been deprived of citizenship from appealing against the Home Office’s decision.
“It’s a profoundly racist law,” Frances Webber, vice-chair of the Institute for Race Relations, told the New Statesman.
“If you’re born here and you don’t have any foreign citizenship, you can do whatever you like. You might go to prison, but you will always have your citizenship. If you don’t have citizenship, what other rights do you have? As Hannah Arendt said, citizenship is the very right to have rights.”
Is the New Statesman overstating? Well the issue was also covered today by leftfootforward.org which reported a Labour MP’s view:
‘During PMQs yesterday, Labour MP for Bradford East & Shadow Employment Rights and Protections Minister, Imran Hussain, raised the issue of the Nationality and Borders Bill, when he said the bill could see him and other black and minority ethnic Brits stripped of their citizenship.
‘He said: “My grandfather along with thousands of others came to this country 70 years ago working seven days a week in squalid conditions to help rebuild this country. “Yet now the Home Secretary’s Nationality and Borders Bill means she can revoke our British citizenship and deport us for even the most minor wrongdoings.
“Given the Government and the Home Office’s horrific track record with the treatment of minorities, the hostile environment and the Windrush scandals, let me ask the Prime Minister the burning question that is now on the lips of everyone from a BAME background right across the country.” – “When is he coming for me?”
Better together without agency?
Can (so-called) left-leaning Unionists like Mr Murray really, honestly claim that in an independent Scotland we cannot be, will not be better than this in addressing matters of citizenship?
Within this Union, Scotland, its Parliament and its electorate has no effective agency on such matters: we are at the mercy of Tory policies whenever England’s electorate prefers a Tory government. And we know this is a commonplace occurrence. Better together?