Putting a price on love

We often hear anguished cries from die-hard Unionists that Scottish independence would put a border through families. During the last independence referendum Labour’s then Shadow Scottish Secretary Magrit Curran went on telly to bewail how she was opposed to independence because she didn’t want her children in London to become foreigners to her. Because being foreign is obviously bad. Funny how it’s always the Unionists who accuse independence supporters of being blood and soil nationalists, but it’s typically Unionists who think that being foreign is a bad thing.

There are in fact three reasons why Magrit was talking nonsense. Well OK, four if we include the reason that anything that issued from Magrit’s gob whether during the independence campaign or at any other time was likely to be self-serving nonsense. The first reason is that Magrit’s weans, wherever in the world that they live, will be entitled to Scottish citizenship because they have at least one parent who is a Scottish citizen. So Magrit’s weans won’t be foreigners to her because, like her, they will be Scottish.

The second reason that Magrit was talking nonsense is that we’re all British citizens at the moment, and unless the British government changes its citizenship laws after Scottish independence, we’ll all still retain the right to British citizenship. During the last independence referendum the British government had no plans to change its citizenship laws in the event of independence. If they did, the likes of Liam Fox who’s negotiating trade deals for a Brexit-Britain will find that he’s no longer a British citizen and will be out of a job as would several Conservative MPs who were born in Scotland but who represent English seats. Admittedly getting rid of Liam, Michael Gove and Alberto Costa is a very good reason for the British government to change their citizenship laws, but in the real world they won’t. Doing so would create chaos, as hundreds of thousands of people who are currently UK citizens residing the rest of the UK would find they were no longer citizens and would have to apply to regularise their position. Under current laws, the only people who would lose their right to British citizenship after Scottish independence would be the children of children born to Scottish people in Scotland after the event of independence. In other words, a generation of Scots who won’t be born for many years to come. So Magrit’s weans won’t be foreigners to her because like her, they will have the right to British passports.

The third reason that Magrit was talking nonsense is of course that if you sincerely believe that you’d be estranged from your children because they possess a different passport from you and would be foreigners, that’s not an argument against Scottish independence, that’s an argument that you are seriously in need of family therapy and counselling.

In fact the UK government is extremely good at separating families and dividing relatives from one another without any assistance from Scottish independence. This week a married couple took the British government to court because they are unable to live together in the same country. When a British citizen marries a citizen of a non-EEA country, the British citizen has to prove that he or she has an income of more than £18,600 annually before they are allowed to bring their foreign spouse into the country. When the couple have a child, that figure increases to £22,400 annually, then increases by £2400 for each subsequent child. Campaigners claim that 15000 children in the UK are separated from one of their parents because of the rule.

It doesn’t matter if your foreign spouse earns more than you do. It doesn’t matter if your foreign spouse would be able to find well paid work in the UK. If the British citizen in the couple doesn’t earn at least £18,600 a year, the foreign spouse is not allowed to reside in the UK. It’s the strictest, the most heartless, immigration regime in Europe. This week the Supreme Court ruled that the law as it currently stands doesn’t violate human rights legislation, but that the needs of children are not being taken into account and that alternative sources of income also need to be considered.

As someone who is engaged to an American citizen, and who is a self-employed blogger earning a precarious living, this rule could seriously affect my chances of being able to live in my own country with the man I love and want to wed. And I’ve got Theresa May to thank for that. She introduced the rule in 2012 when she was Home Secretary. If you’re rich, if you’re lucky enough to come from a family with wealth, if you are the likes of Theresa May, you have no problem. It’s only the poor, the low paid, and self-employed people who scrape a living that the British state tells that they cannot live with a foreigner as a married couple.

Love and marriage isn’t enough to allow a person into the UK. The right to a family life isn’t enough to allow a person into the UK. Britain puts a price on love. This is the land where a political party has a £ symbol as its party logo. It’s a nasty xenophobic island which knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. It’s the land of the hard face of an immigration policy that divides families, that reduces a marriage to late night Skype conversations and longingly touching a computer screen instead of touching and hugging the person you love in bed beside you.

41% of employed people in this country earn less than £18,600 a year. They are effectively barred from living with the person that they love and want to marry if that person is not the citizen of an EEA state. After Brexit, it’s possible that the current rules could also apply to citizens on European states too. Thousands more families and couples will be divided and separated by the uncaring barrier of Theresa May’s wealth wall.

Yes, it’s reasonable to ask that a person coming to live in the UK doesn’t become a burden on the state. But it’s not reasonable to refuse to consider the earning potential of people who are married to a British citizen. Britain isn’t interested, because due to the pressure on the Tory party from the frothing spittle flecked xenophobes of Ukip, controlling immigration has become a fetish.

Britain divides families. Scottish independence can unite them. With Scottish independence we have the opportunity to introduce more humane, more human, more compassionate immigration rules. We have the opportunity to allow Scottish citizens to live together with their families and their spouses irrespective of where in the world their spouses come from. We can show the world that Scotland is a place which welcomes new citizens, where becoming Scottish is something that anyone can achieve. And to do it, all you need is love.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-22nd-feb-2017

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38 comments on “Putting a price on love

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug Putting a price on love […]

  2. Les Bremner says:

    Paul, I didn’t know until I read the seventh paragraph that you were engaged. Please accept my congratulations and best wishes.

    • Hugh Wallace says:

      Mine too Paul. I learned of your happy news via Twitter the other day. I really, really hope that you are not heading to live in New York but totally understand why you might have to do so. But then, Trump… Rock:Hard Place. Anyway, best wishes for a lifetime of happiness to you both.

  3. Not to mention the fact that my wife’s spouse settlement visa cost a grand and her permanent residence that she was lucky enough to get in 2011 cost the same. *And* her status is “no recourse on public funds” ie no entitlement to any benefits. If we moved back to Japan my visa would cost about £50…

    • Charl von Hoesslin says:

      I know how you feel, came over in 2009 on an Ancestral Visa, no recourse for 5 years then £1200 each for Indefinite Leave. My daughter just had to pay £198 for a letter to say she hasn’t taken UK citizenship to be able to retain her South African citizenship when she applies for UK citizenship. The SA retention will only cost £25. All included it will cost her about £1600 just in time to lose free movement.
      We will be moving up to Scotland soon, win or lose we will be voting Yes to independence

  4. Macart says:

    To live in the UK. To live with government UK style. You live in a state that defines your relationships, your friendships, your family ties.

    Not in my name and not for much longer if we have anything to say about it.

    I’ll not have a state use my vote to underwrite their isolationist and xenophobic notions of what or who is proper. I want no part of a system that alienates, demonises and others based on political expediency. And I’m pretty much done with a system and political class that has absolutely zero compunction about using or turning upon their own electorate in pursuit of their own career or agenda.

    The UKs political class and their media have used demographic division for decades to define their politics. They’ve turned communities against each other, families, friends, neighbours and nations. They’ve turned the affluent against the poor, the naturalised against the immigrant, the working class against the unemployed.

    Whenever those self seeking, hypocritical and heartless bastards have required a scapegoat to carry the can for their failures, or when they’ve required a victim demographic to use as a quick meal ticket, they haven’t hesitated to employ the very worst of strategies to achieve their goals. They’ve made of the UK a divided, small minded, cold hearted pariah state.

    It’s a state where greed is good. It’s a state where it’s okay to walk on by those in need. It’s peachy to undermine and dismantle public services and trust. It’s the done thing to simply not give a shit based on your own personal prejudice.

    THIS is what they have done and are continuing to do to you right now and only you can put a stop to it. Only you can say enough is enough.

    No one is born to know prejudice, hatred or fear. Neither is anyone born to commit casual acts of racism and evil. These things are taught and learnt.

    The political and corporate narrative preached daily to the populations of the nations of the UK for decades has been nothing short of appalling. It’s well beyond time to change the record.

  5. Moonlight says:

    This is an accurate reflection of the xenophobic nature of Westminster and it’s fellow travellers.
    I had high hopes that the Supreme Court would relieve me of a burden which is being brought about by Brexit and the little england philosophy.
    My stepson is married to an Australian, his children, my step grandchildren, are denied British passports because their father had parents who were earning a living in the Netherlands when he was born. Happily the Australians handed out a couple of passports through their mothers nationality without any difficulty. Pre 2012 there would not have been a problem, thanks to May as home secretary there now is.

    My stepson runs a business in Spain, at the moment his Australian family has an EU family card by virtue of their fathers passport nationality. (British EU). But what will happen when England achieves it’s goal and takes us all out of the EU. No EU citizenship, no right to live and work,no family card equals no business. As he will not have any income, there is no way May and her cronies will let him and his family into the UK.

    If they can hold out for 7 yrs the kids can apply for Spanish nationality as they are both Spanish born. In the mean time, who knows?

    I am of course hoping that independence will come to Scotland and we can use grandfather rights to get my stepson a Scottish passport. (his great grandfather was a Dundonian).

    So a word of thanks to the contrubutors to this site, your enthusiasm and certainty. Through your efforts to secure independence many lives may be improved and uncertainty relieved. Our vision of an open, free Europe in which we can all move around, earn our living where we wish, bring our kids up where we wish must be maintained. The only way to achieve that will be through independence and full control of our own affairs in Scotland.

    • Still Positive says:

      The day before the indyref my nephew, born in England and back in Scotland, messaged me to ask advice on how to vote.

      I told him if he voted ‘Yes’ and we won his Mexican wife, mother of their Scots-born daughter, would be eligible for Scottish citizenship if they were still living here on Independence Day.

      Still feel a little guilty about holding that gun to his head.

  6. Toni Young says:

    Congratulations on your engagement, I wish you the best of luck for the future.

    My daughter is also engaged to an American man. He is well educated and has a strong social conscience. He would be a great asset to Scotland, but like you, my daughter does not earn the required amount to allow them to be together. I dread to think of her living in Trumps’ USA and have advised them to emigrate to Canada, if possible. Independence can’t come soon enough for this family.

  7. Moonlight says:

    My daughter has an Australian partner. They would love to spend some working time in Scotland.
    But oh dear!, in spite of both being PHD medical scientists the chances of coming in and meeting the May criteria are low. Those of you who understand research grants will know why.

    So that’s a couple of scientists who will be working to build the Australian economy. Not the Scottish economy.

    Don’t you just love Westminster rule?.

  8. Phyl says:

    I can so relate to this post – as you know my husband (Thomas Widmann) is Danish and we’re both self-employed – heaven knows where Brexit will scatter us and our 5 kids.
    I hope it’s all sorted in time to welcome your husband over here Paul xx

    • Marconatrix says:

      I wonder, has anyone tried to estimate just how many people would/will find themselves in a similar position? The figure will probably be horrendous. And why was this never even mentioned afaik during the Brexit campaign?

  9. Moonlight says:

    Forgot to mention, my son has a masters in mech eng. paid for by the Scottish taxpayer. He has to work in England, His company was sold off to a giant German corporation last year, now he and his colleagues are wondering.
    Don’t you just love Westminster rule?
    So that’s my family, new and old, completely buggered up by Brexit.
    There are those on this site who think that as a person over 65 I am likely to be a NO voter. Not this one, it’ll be a YES from me and my Canadian born wife. ( Who is safe as she was born in the last days of Empire)

  10. Ken McIntosh says:

    I left Scotland on 4th April 2015 after selling up my home in West Lothian. My wife of 26 years is Malaysian, our son is a UK citizen. After battling with Westmonster’s Xenophobic home office in U.K., and in Kuala Lumpur, we realised that they had stitched us up totally. We are now happily retired residents of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, being granted the right to stay here after filling in a simple form and stubbing up £15 a year for the residence visa. A beautiful, peaceful, friendly, warm and easy going Malaysian State on the island of Borneo, with a population who help keep Scotland afloat because of their enormous and amazing talent for consuming Scotch!

  11. Andy in Germany says:

    This is why I live in Germany. I married a Japanese woman and found that my goodness but you can’t bring furriners into the country, even though Japan was richer than the UK at the time. So I went to Germany, where the constituation says “the state can’t split a family”. I’ve never earned much but worked in social care for most of the last fifteen years. Now my kids are speaking German fluently and starting to decide what (free) further education options they will follow. while I am getting retraining (alsp paid for by the state) because of an industrial injury.

    Our current main problem is getting citizenship for the older kids: they are automatically eligible, but we just have to get the paperwork from the UK to prove it. Guess what is taking most time and money…

  12. There is no doubt at all that England, with Wales dragged with it, will pull up the drawbridge, lower the portcullis and fill the moat with piranha flesh eaters at the end of March 2019, and pour barrels of molten tar from the parapets on any foreigner attempting to scale the walls of Fortress England.
    I’d venture that many English residents already consider Scots, Irish, and Welsh citizens as ‘foreigners’, to a greater or lesser degree, and indeed, having worked all over these isles over 4 decades, and actually lived for a time in the West Midlands, I have experienced that ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ feeling many times, not all of it bad, by any means. In fact quite the opposite. We are stereotypically great engineers, shipbuilders, financial whizzes, hard working, conscientious, drunken tramps, razor slashing Visigoths, sectarian bigots, White Heather Club kilties, Trainspotting junkies, subsidy junkies, tight arsed basters, and so on.
    It was ever thus.
    We have never been a United Kingdom, a family of nations bonded together by the Queen, her ever burgeoning family, the Church of England, the Mother of Parliaments on Thames, The Boat race, Wimbers, the Grand National, the Five Nations and the Scottish Colony Rugby Tourny, and the Ashes.
    The BBC does not reflect life in Scotland. I would argue that this is why BBC Scotland will always be a sub station, of ‘Our Man in Havana’ status, because this Establishment Mouthpiece is there to serve London, the Home Counties, and the status quo I partially describe above.
    We are yet to reach Brexit Talks Day One, yet the horrors of EU Anglocide are unfolding now.
    Many who voted Leave, especially in England, welcome the prospect of Isolated Britain, ‘back in control’.
    Little England, that is, with the Scots Colony unchanged, a grouse moor, whisky distilling, Edinburgh Festivalling Open Golfing, cock and balls swinging land of kilties, back in their box, doing as they are told.
    Mundell”s delusions of Empire grow more alarming at each passing day.
    He asserts that Scotland no longer exists, that we were somehow airbrushed from history in 1707. I’d venture that he wouldn’t dare suggest that England no longer exists, when he is making the tea for his Betters in the Cabinet Office.
    The EU is suggesting an online Electronic visa system charging £14 a pop for Brits travelling abroad on holiday. Work abroad and freedom of movement within the EU will cease, March 2019.
    The madness described here by many is happening now.
    It will get worse.
    When Indyref 2 is triggered, I wonder how the Establishment will treat Scots Citizens?
    It will be an almighty struggle, chaps; one we must win.

    • Macart says:

      No question Jack.

      Folk also need to remember that this time round there are two very different futures on the line. Only in one of them do you get to retain your human and civil rights as you enjoy them today.

      The other? Not so much.

      • Charl von Hoesslin says:

        Sadly human and civil rights will no longer exist unless you are a card carrying Tory with loads of money, the rest of us will be returned to being serfs regarded as chattel.

      • Many years ago, Sam, when I was a mere lad making my way in the world, one of the least envious jobs I had was going around Glasgow Corporation Sewage Works, in Dalmuir, Dalmarnock, and Partick, to name but a few, or should that be ‘phew’, paying out wages to the workforce.
        The stench for the occasional visitor, and me, was almost unbearable, but the hardened men (there were no women) whose essential job it was to keep us all hygienically safe, averred that they had got ‘used to it’, confirming this by chomping away on rolls ‘n’.square slice and slurping black tea as they checked the cash in their wee brown envelopes.
        One of their tasks was to paddle into a stagnant pool of sewage in rubber waders to ‘break up’ blockages of sewage and clogging agents like newspaper, and… I’ll stop now, even I am boaking at the memory.
        The grand looking red sandstone building on Dumbarton Road, at the River Kelvin opposite the Western Infirmary houses one such cess pit.

        Scotland is up to its neck in a London centric political cess pit not of our own making. (well, you guessed that there was an analogy there somewhere, dear reader.)
        We have been sinking slowly but inexorably into the glaur, fighting through election after election, plebiscite after plebiscite, just to keep our heads above the mire.
        There are signs of the Great Cleansing:- the Three Pro Independence Holyrood Administrations, 56 SNP members returned to WM at the UK GE, Blair’s New Labour ‘unblocked’ and flushed forever into the Kelvin, 62% voting Remain, the 45% attracting 130,000 membership of the SNP, Corrupt Tammany Hall Unionists about to be ousted from Local Authorities in their droves.
        Brexit will surely open the sluice gates, and at last flush the festering glug of Imperialism into the sea.
        I am heartened by Paul’s tremendous news about his engagement. Normal life of sorts can go on, even in Occupied Scotland.
        But for how long if we merely stand by and let WM plunge us deeper into the shit.
        A partner resident in the US, and May’s Iron Curtain ‘Britland’, may present insurmountable barriers to any couple who make the mistake of falling for each other but who do not both live on Boris’ Island.
        We are the Night Shift Shifters, Sam.
        No more Mr and Mrs Nice Guy.
        When Indyref 2 Is triggered, we fight for our basic freedoms now.
        I’ll stop now.

        • Macart says:

          Heh, used to live up Kelvinbridge masel’. Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away etc.

          They’re effectively and literally dictating your partnerships at this point. There’ll be no liaisons with furren types is the bottom line.

          Do we stand for that? Do we let others decide our friendships, our loves?

          We get the chance to right this wrong? There can be no doubt about the choice we face and the neccessary choice we must make to protect our most basic freedoms and rights.

          • My wife is Irish, Sam. I’ll miss her.

            • Macart says:

              Oh, you are so goin’ tae get it fur that. 😀

              #clearthedecksforaction

              • Az says:

                Haha – Must say I enjoyed this set of comments immensely!

                Totally OT, but Jack, since we’ve recently been reading about linguistics, I thought this piece of trivia might be of interest to you. Well, it is to me as I have a fascination for Brazil and the Portuguese language…

                There are very words indeed in English which are derived from Portuguese, and almost none as a direct lift.

                However, the word ‘piranha’ is the only one I can think of which is exactly that – a direct lift. They pronounce slightly differently, the ‘nh’ in Portuguese produces the same sound as the ñ in Spanish.

                Actually, I love saying that word that way, pee-RAN-ya, in a silly pseudo-Latino gangster type of voice, it sounds cooler and is more fun 🙂

                Okay, nurse, take me away.

                • weegingerdug says:

                  Albatroz, albino, banana, commando, dodo, flamingo, indigo, jacaranda, jaguar, lambada, macaque, mandarin, marmalade, mosquito, pagoda, tapioca, zebra, and many more.

                  • Az says:

                    Ah! Thanks Paul, I did somewhere read a list before, and recall some of these also. The only time I ever saw ‘jacaranda’ used in English was in an Australian song, at that time I had to look it up.
                    I guarantee you by next week I’ll only remember piranha again 🙂

                    • It may be ‘fake news’, but did George W really say:- The French don’t have a word for entrepreneur.’?
                      I noted the other day that some Dim but Nice Tory MP wants all French words removed from the new True Blue Take Back Control UK passport.
                      Perhaps someone should take him through the SOED from abattoir to Zeitgeist.
                      I love this forum.

        • Les Bremner says:

          “Night Shift Shifters” Jack? You don’t need to be polite here, we can take it. In fact, I can hear Colonel Bogey in my head, and I may be stuck with it for today.

          • It was all getting a bit too scatological, even for me, Les. You all knew what I meant.
            All together now:- ‘We are the night shite shifters, we shift shite by night’.
            Rather like the unelected House of Lards debating Brexit into the wee sma’ hours, the poor souls.
            Himmler, does indeed have something similar.

  13. Rachel says:

    This inhuman rule seperated me from my Chilean husband for over a year, but we made it, and he is now here paying taxes and contributing to society, three years down the 5 year process for him to get indefinite leave to remain, which will cost us about £2,500 at least. The first of the three applications you need to make is the hardest, after that the spouses income in the UK will count.

    I was about £3,000 short on the income requirement so I needed to have about £23,500 (£16,000 + 2.5*3,000) in savings in my name for 6 months. Luckily I managed it, but many wouldn’t have made it and I would be living in exile if I hadn’t had the help, or we would’ve been apart for longer until I got a better paid job.

    I’m sure that if it came to it, you could crowdfund from your many followers, and return the money after the six months. Although I guess if they saw that you had done this crowdfunding then it wouldn’t be allowed though…..

    • Rachel, it is accounts like yours that makes fair minded people very angry indeed.
      It is recognised by everyone that Scotland needs immigration to survive, yet Mundell ‘rules out’ a separate Immigration solution for Scotland post Brexit, and the Dead Tree Scrollers meekly imbue his nonsense with some sort of authority which he clearly doesn’t have.
      I can only imagine the heartache, and stress, which you have endured to get where you are now. Your determination not to be beaten by the Jobsworths shines through.
      This can never happen in Free Scotland.
      We rely on folks like you and your husband who do us the honour of moving here, working here, bringing up families, and contributing to our society.
      Not so in Little England.
      England 2017, Germany 1933.
      This is how it all began.
      We salute you, Rachel.
      They can snap a twig, but not a bunch of twigs bonded together. We are Scotland.
      I apologise for my earlier flippancy above.
      It is a very ominous and savage Brexit indeed.
      I promise you, we shall prevail.

      • Rachel says:

        Thanks Jack, it was a very tough year, and I don’t think I’ve cried so much in a year since I was a baby but thankfully through it all now and in a much better place. We even bought our first house last year (getting a mortgage was a whole other challenge due to his residency status) and are very happy. It’s important to raise awareness of this issue and the challenge people in genuine relationships have – if you don’t know anyone affected it most are unaware.

  14. Anne says:

    How does the H.O. decide the MIR? As it was set about 5 years ago, is it likely to be raised again especially with the falling value of the pound?

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