IS there a greater example of Scotland being a different country with different needs from the rest of the UK that must be addressed than the debate currently raging on about immigration?

Immigration is a topic I’ve written about a couple of times. In the past, I have written about how the immigration debate has always been framed on the terms of those who are against it. For a long time, those who were against immigration were able to espouse their views largely unchallenged, and the person advocating for immigration did so half-heartedly with a bit of an apology. “Look, I know I am just a lefty snowflakey softy who has been indoctrinated by a globalist ideology, but really I think immigration is pretty OK,” was essentially the way pro-immigration voices broadcast themselves.

To an extent that’s still true, but now there are a lot more commentators who are unashamedly pro-immigration. Journalist Ash Sarkar on Thursday stood up to an audience member on Question Time who was making the tired old argument that immigrants are only in the UK to take advantage of the NHS.

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Sarkar raised the fact that immigrants pay far more in tax to the Treasury than they take out, to the protests of the audience.

At which point she reminded them that “facts don’t care about your feelings”. Given the new, horrendous points system that the Home Office announced this week, it was fantastic, and frankly a relief, to see an unabashed defence of immigration.

The National: Home Office sign

And what is this points system? Well, going back a bit to the time of promises on the side of buses, one of the main arguments made by the Leave side in the run-up to the EU referendum was that the UK, if we leave Europe, could “take back control” of our immigration policy and implement an “Australia style” points-based system for immigration.

So, the Prime Minister instructed his Home Secretary, Priti Patel – you’ll remember her as the one who supported the death penalty on Question Time, and then denied ever having supported the death penalty when she was promoted to Home Secretary. Or as the Secretary of State for International Development under Theresa May who had to resign in disgrace for holding dodgy backroom meetings, shortly before being promoted to a Great Office of State by Boris Johnson.

The system, as announced, requires an applicant to score a combined total of 70 points to be able to apply to come to the UK. You get 20 points if you have a job offer, 20 points if that is at an “appropriate skill level”, 10 points for speaking English, and so on. There are points for certain salary levels and 10 points if you have a PhD in a non-STEM subject; 20 if it is STEM.

There’s so much to hate about this policy, but I want to highlight a specific bit of text from the Home Office website: “A total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply; some characteristics are tradeable.”

Specifically, the “eligible to apply” part. I know from the countless people who have contacted my constituency office that the Home Office has a history of rejecting out of hand for ludicrous reasons applications that meet all the requirements of the current system.

I have seen a woman be told she can return to her country of origin with her daughter, despite her daughter having been born here and only knowing Scotland, because her daughter will be able to use a mobile phone to maintain her friendships here. I’ve seen countless visitor visas rejected out of hand, despite meeting all the requirements, because the Home Office arbitrarily decided that the person visiting probably wouldn’t leave. The one potential argument in favour of this new system would be that it makes it clearer who will have their applications accepted.

However, the “eligible to apply” disclaimer, while seemingly innocuous, makes it clear to me that the Home Office will continue to find arbitrary reason to penalise people and reject their applications.

Immigration is a good thing. It enriches our country, our culture, our friendships, our families, our entire lives. It cannot be said enough that immigration is a boon for Scotland.

In fact, “boon” doesn’t go far enough. For Scotland, immigration is critical to our economy and public services. Our population is ageing out of the workforce at a steady rate, while there is a steady decline of those ageing into the workforce. This is good news – it means our population is living longer, and families are in control of how many children they want to raise.

But it means our NHS needs immigration to continue growing to meet demand. Seasonal tourism outside of the central belt requires immigration to meet demand. The hospitality sector, the financial sector, small business, construction, and so on, all require immigration to continue thriving.

The exclusion at the heart of this new system will be devastating for our economy.

The Scottish Government knows this and delivered a fair and workable proposal to the Home Office for a Scottish visa, to allow for a tailored Scottish system. The UK Government didn’t even read it before rejecting it. It doesn’t care about our economy or our public services.