David Mundell, who is currently crowing that the Smith Commission has been delivered “in full”, has just blocked a key element of it.
All of the Smith parties agreed to consult on the possibility of allowing Scotland to issue post-study visas for visiting students to allow them to continue working (and paying taxes) in Scotland, the country which educated them, after they graduate.
Mundell has just blocked that proposal without such consultation and before the Scottish Affairs Committee looking into it has even had a chance to report back. (Story here)
One of the most upsetting moments in my own personal indyref campaign was hearing from a young lass whose partner was one such visiting student. He had come to Scotland to study engineering and, after falling in love both with our country and one of its inhabitants he decided that he wanted to stay, to build his career and to make Scotland his home. Just two weeks after his graduation, the UK Government rewarded his endeavour with arrest, incarceration in Dungavel and deportation.
This is not how a civilised country should treat other human beings. Instead, we should be encouraging those who, after all, pay significant sums of money towards their education to find a place within Scotland should they choose to do so. Many will find high paid, highly skilled and highly sought after jobs. Many others will start businesses of their own and CREATE those same jobs. Even the graduates who choose to leave Scotland will, if they are treated with respect, go on to strengthen our trade and business links with the countries to which they go. Something to bear in mind with respect to the UK’s worrying trade deficit combined with a currency value currently at the lowest level since the Tories took power and which is rapidly approaching the weakest value it’s had in 30 years.
Think about it David. If you were incarcerated and forcibly ejected from here simply because you had graduated, would you look upon this country favourably afterwards? Of course not. Would you consider sending your kids to study in a country which threatened to do the same to them? Of course you wouldn’t.
As Smith notes, this policy doesn’t require any additional powers to be devolved, indeed the similar Fresh Talent scheme used to be implemented in Scotland between 2005 and 2008 and was rolled out successfully to the entire UK until 2012 when it was scrapped by the Coalition government. Mundell’s decision therefore seems especially arbitrary, short-sighted and, frankly, smacks of nothing less than a jumped-up Governor throwing his weight around simply because he thinks he cannot be challenged.