Scots more positive about immigration than rest of UK

Reducing immigration is of less concern across Scotland than it is elsewhere across the UK, according to new research.

Reducing immigration is of less concern across Scotland than it is elsewhere in the UK, according to new research.

The data, produced by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, found that whilst 58 per cent of people in Scotland supported reductions in immigration, this compares to the 75 per cent who supported reductions in England and Wales.

Furthermore, more people in Scotland (41 per cent) believed that immigration was a good thing compared to 31 per cent who said it was bad for Scotland.

When looking at the links between immigration and voting intentions in the independence referendum, the findings conclude that there is a strong correlation between the two. It explains:

“Among respondents in Scotland who said they would prefer to see immigration reduced, a large majority plan to vote ‘no’ (58 per cent vs 28 per cent, with 14 per cent undecided). The margin is much closer among those who do not support reductions to immigration (45 per cent intend to vote ‘no’, 40 per cent ‘yes’).”

Asked where immigration and asylum issues ranked in their list of importance ahead of September’s referendum, Scots placed it joint fifth, alongside pensions, behind, by a large margin, the number one issue of the economy.

A majority of respondents also said they wanted to see the most important decisions about immigration made by the Scottish rather than the UK government.

Commenting on the results, director of the Migration Observatory Dr Scott Blinder said:

“Scotland’s attitudes toward migration are noticeably different to those in England and Wales, so this research is critical for both the referendum debate and for wider questions about migration policy in Scotland.

“In particular, there is significantly less support in Scotland for reduced immigration than in England and Wales.

“It is important not to exaggerate this, though.

“A majority of Scottish people still want to see immigration levels reduced.

“It is interesting to note that people who intend to vote Yes in the referendum are much less likely to support reduced immigration than those who intend to vote no.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, the Scottish minister for external affairs Humza Yousaf responded:

“What we want is an immigration policy that suits the economic, educational, social and cultural needs of our country.

“That means you cut illegal immigration, but what you do is where there are skill gaps that cannot be filled by local, indigenous Scots, then you look to immigration to help with that and also with our population demographics.

“On top of that we would look to get the best, the cream of the crop, international students to come to study at Scottish universities.”

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7 Responses to “Scots more positive about immigration than rest of UK”

  1. AnotherDave

    Scotland hasn’t had the level of immigration that England has:

    “In 1911 the population of England was 33m, and still just 39m in 1951. But by 2011 it was 53m – a rise of about 60% in a century. And when we bear in mind that the rise is focused upon the South-East, Birmingham and Greater Manchester, we can appreciate the sense of people in some parts of the country that the growth in population is overwhelming them.

    But now consider Scotland. Scotland’s population in 1911 was 4.8m and by 2001 was still just 5.0m. The population in 2001 was actually lower than in 1951. The population of Northern Ireland was 1.65m in 1841, and only 1.69m in 2001.

    The population density of England is 4 persons per hectare; of Greater Manchester 5; of the South-East 4.5. But of Northern Ireland it’s only 1.3 and of Scotland only 0.7 – barely a sixth of the population density of England.”

  2. Iain Macmillan

    Have you ever considered the reasons why Scotland and Northern Ireland’s populations haven’t grown as much as England’s? Read some Scottish/ Irish history.

  3. Guest

    There are a lot of books out there. Perhaps you could outline a few salient points for your thesis.


  4. Alec

    Another way of looking at it – not seen through the artificial lens of chauvinistic reverse nationalism – is that a fair chunk (in cases, even a clear majority) of Scots are _not_.

    Of course, this doesn’t marry with Fish-heid McMoonface’s notion that Scots are a naturally inclusive non-prejudiced nation unlike the English (that’s not a racist notion because… well, it just isn’t) so forget I said it.


  5. Alec

    There are a lot of books out there. Perhaps you could outline a few salient points for your thesis.

  6. Ralph Musgrave

    Humza Yousaf’s claim that only immigrants that benefit the host country (i.e. immigrants that alleviate skill bottlenecks) should be allowed in is completely fatuous. It’s a nice idea in theory, but it’s near impossible to implement. I.e. the reality is that if you allow immigration, then every Tom, Dick and Harry barges their way in: the skilled, the unskilled, the law abiding and criminals.

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