by Colin Campbell
IT’S becoming clearer by the week that Highland MSP Kate Forbes is totally out of touch with reality. And that’s not surprising. She’s the SNP Scottish government’s finance secretary.
A few weeks ago she found time to dwell on concerns about the problem of dogs and sheep worrying in her constituency at a time of economic crisis. By the fresh faced look of her, the sheep worry more than she does. Being at the epicentre of an economic meltdown hasn’t put a line on her face. But then why should it? All she has to do is turn to Westminster and demand the UK Treasury pick up every bill. Better still, if they refuse, as they did last week when she put in a demand for another half billion on top of the billions that have already funded the furlough scheme, she can denounce “the callous Tory Government”.
And for the time being, at least, it seems to be working, with support for independence having risen in the polls. The latest one was taken after shops and other businesses reopened. So the three month free holiday of deckchairs and gardening was over. No doubt the UK government, which paid for it all, copped the immediate blame from many for ending their furlough vacation as well. But they’ll get over it.
Now Forbes, who was only elected as an MSP three years ago, has turned her attention to immigration. This followed the release of a report which said the UK Government’s proposed new immigration system could halve the number of people coming to Scotland.
At a time like this with mass unemployment looming, the rational reaction should be: “Only halve the number? With no jobs available, is it sensible for anyone other than the most highly-skilled workers to come here at all?”
But Kate Forbes sees it differently as she floats above the economic havoc down below.
She said yesterday: “This is one of the most destructive policies for the Highlands and Islands that’s ever come out of the UK Government. There is nothing more critical to the future economy of the Highlands than inward migration. We know that so many businesses have relied on citizens from other countries who choose to contribute to the Highland economy.”
So as she sees it one of the biggest concerns we face is not having enough workers to fill jobs, and it’s necessary to bring in more from Poland and Romania and elsewhere. Doesn’t she realise we could be stuck with high unemployment for years ahead after the coronavirus disaster that’s happened and still has a long way to go?
Never mind how senselessly Ill-timed I think that sounds. Why not just ask all the Poles and Romanians and others who are here and have either lost or will lose their jobs what they think about it?
They face the trauma of unemployment in a country they moved to for a higher standard of living, and they are being hit and will be hit very hard. Many, including some I know, work in the hospitality industry, where there are going to be thousands of job losses, partly because visitors are being discouraged from coming here because of the despicable element of English haters within the nationalist movement.
Kate Forbes should ask workers who came from these countries and settled in her own constituency what they think of her notion that we need more migrants to fill vacancies. What’s Polish for: “Have you lost your mind?”
The thought of this newbie MSP who was shoehorned into the job of finance secretary after her predecessor quit in disgrace being in charge of rebuilding the economy in an independent Scotland alone and adrift is a terrifying one. And every time she opens her mouth, the more unthinkable it becomes.