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Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th December 2013.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I do not disagree at all with Liam McArthur’s points. I purposely referred to political parties; I did not refer to the British people, people in Scotland or people in England. I said that political parties have to be careful about the trajectory that they are on.

Liam McArthur’s point takes me to a point that Kezia Dugdale made. Kezia Dugdale’s speech and the story that she told were extraordinarily powerful. She talked about public opinion perhaps not chiming with the go home campaign. By and large, I agree with that, but the honest reality is that many members of the public have an irrational fear of immigration, who asylum seekers are, and why they are in the country. I think that the defining difference is in how politicians choose to respond to that. I do not believe that the language that is coming from politicians, particularly the Conservative-led coalition Government and the Conservative Party, is helpful.

We have seen an almost united front in the chamber—a pretty unanimous display of why we believe that immigrants and those who seek asylum should be welcomed to Scotland. That is the right political message, and I hope that it filters down to people. I appeal to those who have influence in their parties in the UK to try translate that tone and feeling to those parties, as they are not going in that direction. We have displayed something in the Scottish Parliament that I do not think would quite be heard in the UK Parliament, certainly not from senior members of the UK Government.

We have published “Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland”, a white paper in which we have very clearly given our priorities for asylum and immigration. On asylum, we believe in closing down Dungavel, which is a toxic institution. We believe in no longer allowing refugees to become destitute, but providing them with continued support, and in no longer carrying out dawn raids and dragging families and children out of their homes at 3, 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. That is not just a legal duty; it is our moral duty. It will help us to build a more successful nation that is based on diverse, inclusive and skilled communities that work not only for economic growth but for better social and cultural diversity.

I will end with the poignant and aspirational image that Christian Allard MSP painted. He said that, instead of having vans driving around that tell people to go home, he envisages a Scotland in which people drive around in vans that say, “Welcome to your new home.”

13:19 Meeting suspended.

14:30 On resuming—