Tele Column -27th Nov 15

Look around the world and in almost every country you will find Scots. We have emigrated from these shores to others almost since we had the capability to do so. Often it was by choice. The desire to travel and seek pastures new outweighed the need or desire to remain here. But for a huge number of native Scots the pressure to emigrate was brought upon them by economic factors. From the highland clearances to the closure of the lower Clyde shipyards, families have been driven to seek a new life elsewhere because the life they had here had been removed or seriously undermined. Over the years countries have opened their borders to Scots and to a large extent we have appreciated and capitalised on the opportunity. The majority but not all have worked hard and contributed to their new country. They managed to integrate and set down roots for future generations and with these future generations the barrier between immigrant and citizen blurs until we are all citizens. Fifty million people around the globe can trace their roots back to Scotland. They acknowledge their Scots roots via Saint Andrews societies and Burns clubs but they are Canadian, American, Australian, Danish, Norwegian, South African to the core. This high level of emigration is largely offset by the number of immigrants that over the generations have settled here. The list of countries that have contributed to Scotland’s population is long and stretches around the globe. As we welcome the first of the Syrian families to Inverclyde we should remember the contribution that immigrants have made to Scotland over the years, the horrific circumstances that are currently driving them here and acknowledge that Scots have been immigrants for centuries. No doubt a small number of folk will vocally oppose our new residents and seek to gain support for their views. Intolerance and aggression towards immigrants have no place in 21st century Scotland in deed these families have been driven out of their own countries by these sentiments. I am no big fan of Christmas starting earlier each year but this year I will make an exception and urge you to get into Christmas mode early and find within yourself peace, love and understanding.