Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th March 2015.

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Photo of Christian Allard Christian Allard Scottish National Party

Thank you, Presiding Officer. That is not the last thank you that I will say—I have to say a lot of thank yous in my four minutes. First, I thank the Scottish Green Party and the independent members for bringing the debate to the chamber. It is timely, and it is important that we debate the issue.

We must debate immigration. We must debate it regularly and not just at election time. We have to see the two sides. We have to consider immigration, which is people coming in, and emigration, which is people going out. It is important that we do not debate just one of those in a vacuum.

Many members have spoken about the BBC. I perhaps have to dampen my views about the BBC a bit. I heard the programme that Jean Urquhart spoke about, which was on Monday morning. It was absolutely appalling. I am not talking about the contributions—it was a phone-in, so a lot of people were calling and airing their views. They have to air their views—it is important that they do so—but what was appalling was the presenter, Kaye Adams. The way in which she portrayed and related things was appalling—she agreed with some comments that nobody with any sense would agree with.

I am annoyed about that, because the BBC is a fantastic organisation. When the BBC was mentioned in the previous speech, I could have intervened to say that BBC Alba is a fantastic channel, and I will be on it this week or next week, speaking in French. BBC Alba loves languages; it discusses them a lot and it wants to have people participating who live in Scotland and who speak different languages. There is good and there is bad. I would say to Kaye Adams, “No, thanks—not any more.”

However, I would like to thank “Scotland 2015”. We had an important debate on immigration on Tuesday last week. Even if the opinion poll was perhaps not as good as it should have been—Christina McKelvie was absolutely right about that—we had a good debate.

I was sitting next to this UKIP MEP. Members would be surprised to know how quiet he was. There was consensus among members of the panel, and the audience was good and diverse, but there was something that I was shocked about: he did not expect me to be there. He expected our Minister for Europe and International Development to be there.

I think that what happened in the rest of the week was this. The UKIP MEP could not develop his argument live on television because he had the wrong SNP MSP next to him. He had a Frenchman there—a migrant—but he did not want to talk about migration. He wanted to talk about Islamophobia and about what is happening today and to blame a particular religion all over the world. My skin was too white, and I did not have the right religion, so he did not engage. That might explain what happened afterwards.

I want to say thank you to the press. The press thereafter has been fantastic. I wish to mention one particular journalist, Alan Roden of the Scottish Daily Mail, who took the phone call from this MEP and who could not have been clearer when he came on television. He was extremely clear that the phone call, which was only a 15-minute chat, was not a joke. Nobody was laughing. He was not laughing and David Coburn was not laughing—it was not a laughing matter. Mr Roden said:

“It was not banter in a pub ... it was a chat between a journalist and a politician.”

We have to remember that some of our Scottish press are just fantastic, with very much the same spirit as the Parliament today. We should be proud that the Parliament and our Scottish press have produced a fantastic reaction to what happened this week.