COMMENTS made last weekend by the chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council Sabir Zazai have lifted my spirits about us Scots.

Zazai was responding to the results of a survey commissioned by the SRC into Scots attitudes towards asylum seekers and migrants. The survey’s findings, he said, “show a desire in Scotland for things to be done differently”, that Scots “are ready for a more fair and humane approach to refugee protection”.

This new poll by Survation showed that 73% of respondents believe that asylum seekers should be allowed to work and support their families, that over half of those polled believe that people seeking asylum should receive financial support, with 59% saying they think Scotland should run its own asylum and immigration system. And a whopping 74% believe that it’s important to make people feel welcome in Scotland.

What a wonderful antidote to all the dog-whistling racist rhetoric and inaction on inequality emanating from the UK Government. In Scotland we want to do it differently from them. We don’t want a hostile environment, we want to create and nurture a welcoming environment.

It has therefore been nauseating this week to watch the UK Government thank the Windrush generation for their contribution to British life when they have been treated so appallingly by successive Tory administrations. They know no bounds when it comes to brass neck or lack of shame. Theresa May’s hostile environment is a dark stain on Conservative party history, and Wendy Williams’s report in March on the Windrush scandal Lessons Learned Review, reveals a catalogue of “ignorance and thoughtlessness” by the Home Office under her control and into the Johnson and Patel era.

Priti Patel has promised to “right these wrongs”, but don’t hold your breath. This UK Government tries to talk a good talk, but where’s the action or actual implementation of reviews? We see you. And we see the countless more commissions into racial inequalities, set up to distract and delay any actual hard work or change. As for Johnson himself with his back catalogue of racist tropes and xenophobic clichés, he’s hardly the man for the job.

The hard facts are that 96% of Windrush victims are yet to be compensated, that the review recommendations have not been implemented and the Home Office has done nothing to address the hostile environment. Just look at Patel’s new proposals for immigration and attracting so-called skilled workers. To say it’s just a farce would be to belittle the real impact on people’s lived experience and vital human rights.

What every failure of this UK Government highlights, in terms of their abhorrent treatment of the Windrush generation or indeed their enthusiasm for harassing new Britons out of the country, is their utter blind spot on just how much migrants bring to our culture and our economy. Even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, which drew much-needed attention to how integral migrants are to the NHS, and how exposed they are to increased risk from the virus through their work as nurses, doctors, paramedics, shop keepers, supermarket workers, bus drivers and so much more, the Government just ploughs on with its agenda. As for protecting their health, with a possible second wave of the virus coming this winter, Johnson and his cabinet have done less than nothing to address the issues surrounding the number of cases and deaths in BAME and other minority groups. It’s neglect on a massive scale.

During lockdown, refugee rights groups campaigned for the UK Government to increase asylum support rates in line with the £20 increase in Universal Credit. The Government’s deeply insulting and downright inhumane response was to add a paltry 26p per day to the allowance. As Zazai commented: “Is it normal to treat one group of people so differently? Or is there another word for this?”

There is nothing normal about treating people as second-class citizens and Zazai is right, we all know what this is called, and we’ve seen it play out across history with lethal results. Britain is awash with structural racism.

It looks like Scotland doesn’t want to play ball with this blinkered and blatantly prejudiced agenda. Because I know that for every opportunist, ignorant and angry mob gathering in our city squares, there are many more communities and individuals reaching out to give new Scots a warm welcome and include their talents in making our country a better place.

Unfortunately, rather like the Section 30 order or indeed our marginalised status in the Brexit negotiations, none of Scotland’s progressive values and vision for a better, more inclusive future will be given an inch by a UK Government hanging on to the remnants of this increasingly disunited kingdom like grim death.

Valid arguments have been made for immigration powers to be devolved to Scotland – arguments which are both practical and essential given our ageing population and the need for us to attract new talent and skills to bolster our economy and society as a whole.

But at the end of the day, why demand and make do with a few extra powers? Scotland’s people deserve them all and Scotland’s politicians should get on with delivering them.