Local politics is a bizarre game sometimes.
In the run up to the Scottish referendum on independence, my good friend and fellow Labourite Julian Ware-Lane posted a brief blog on the subject. The blog was reasonably unremarkable (Sorry Julian! – Ed), especially considering what came afterwards.
In response to Julian’s suggestion that Scottish independence would cause problems for local UKIP leader (and Scotsman) James Moyies, and my own suggestion that he would no longer have an automatic right to live and work in the UK, Cllr Moyies got a little upset.
Apparently, I’m sinister. And, er, a racist.
Taking the matter to the local paper, Cllr Moyies bleated:
“I thought they were joking at first, but I was shocked when they started defending their comments — they are saying it’s an issue because I’m foreign.
“If someone said the same about someone of African or Chinese descent they would be called racist.“
Let’s deal with what was the racism bit, first. There is a bit of a difference between “Scottish” and “African descent” or “Chinese”. I’m equal parts outraged and amused to be accused of being racist by the leader of UKIP in Southend, but perhaps this is a little illuminating as to his party’s troubles with race.
But to the substantive ‘issue’. Had Scotland voted Yes, then it would have become a separate country from the rest of the United Kingdom. Therefore, Mr Moyies and all Scottish residents of England, Wales and Northern Ireland would, by definition, have been foreigners.
So too, unless the independent Scotland were to sign a treaty with the rUK, or join the EU, then Scottish-born citizens would have no automatic right to live and work in the rUK. Including Cllr Moyies.
At no point did either myself or Julian express any desire for this situation. Indeed, I said myself:
“…I would be outraged if any rUK government attempted to exclude Scots from living and working here on the basis of where they were born…“
That doesn’t seem to have registered with Cllr Moyies. His attempt to paint me as trying to scare Scottish residents of England is arrant nonsense, truly laughable. But if, as Cllr Moyies claims, Scots resident in England and English resident in Scotland would “feel any change very deeply”, how must those of other nationalities, resident in the United Kingdom, feel at the prospect of his party’s policies. They live under the fear that, however long they have lived and worked in and contributed to Britain, if Nigel Farage and co ever saw power they may be forced to leave their homes.
There is, I maintain, a beautiful irony that had Scotland decided to go its own way last week, UKIP policy would have left its Southend leader unwelcome in his own town…