"JACK McConnell suffered a humiliating setback yesterday when claims that he had paved the way for a special Scottish "protocol" with Westminster over asylum seekers were rubbished by the Home Office.The backgroung to this is the bad publicity that the Executive has received from the dawn raids that have been carried out in Scotland to remove failed asylum seekers. Our Jack claimed that he was negotiating a Scottish "protocol" with the Home Office but it seems that they have now said, in effect, that they don't know what he's talking about.
The First Minister has told the Scottish Parliament on several occasions that he has been working on a "protocol" with the Home Office to prevent the harsh treatment of failed asylum seekers when they are forcibly evicted from Scotland."
"One senior source said: "There is not a protocol. A protocol would be a two-way process. Why would we do that?"Bit rude I thought and clearly embarrassing for Jack McConnell. Jack, in turn, accused the Home Office of having cack on their hands.
The asylum seeker issue really doesn't register up here, not least because we haven't lost our centuries-old habit of depopulation by inflicting a fair chunk of our people on an unsuspecting world. It's almost certainly an urban myth but this story I heard serves to illustrate our retention problem: someone told me that some Kosovan refugees were to be housed in the Red Road flats in Glasgow. They took one look at them, came to the understandable conclusion that the war-torn Balkans were a safer option, and took the next plane home.
Anyway, the point is I think practically everyone in Holyrood, including Jack, understands that we need settlers in and also that these dawn raids, along with the Dungavel detention centre for asylum seekers, are not playing well with the public at all.
On one level, I think Jack deserves credit for understanding Scotland's population needs and never using the anti-asylum, anti-immigration rhetoric you hear from Westminster politicians. On the other hand, if it is confirmed that he's been telling porkies, that was both very silly and rather shabby, given that these families were looking for assurance that the Executive was pushing their case with the Home Office.
D'ya think he used the word 'protocol' in the hope that people wouldn't know what it means?