Scotland’s pro-independence newspaper The National has published a front page welcome to the first wave of Syrian migrants offered asylum by the British government.
Around 100 Syrian migrants are due to arrive at Glasgow airport today aboard a charter flight; the first of 1,000 Syrians due to enter the country under the governments resettlement program by Christmas.
The National, sister paper to the Herald, has made no secret of where it stands on the new arrivals – over a picturesque image of Scotland its front page reads: “To the first refugees fleeing war-torn Syria who will arrive at Glasgow Airport today, we’d just like to say WELCOME TO SCOTLAND”.
Our front page: As the first Syrian refugees arrive in Scotland tomorrow, we’d like to offer them a warm welcome pic.twitter.com/1zZ7fazcbS
— The National (@ScotNational) November 16, 2015
Its enthusiasm for the refugees continues inside, where in an editorial the paper lauds “Scotland’s compassion for the refugees,” and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “for emphasising that there is never an excuse for hate crime.”
Astonishingly, it also suggests that the Paris gunmen who entered Europe by masquerading as Syrians fleeing war earlier this year really were “refugees”.
As to those who oppose the importing of Syrians into Scotland, The National dismisses them as “tiny collection of bigots”, reassuring itself and its readers that the vast majority of Scots “will, we are sure, extend … kindness and generosity to our new neighbours arriving this week”.
However, if they are expecting widespread support for the new arrivals they may be disappointed. Recent polling by YouGov has shown that the Paris attacks have significantly reduced support for the relocation of Syrian refugees into Britain.
When asked “have you changed your mind about allowing Syrian refugees into Britain?” 20 per cent of Scottish respondents said that they had – and would now like to see fewer refugees taken in. Just two per cent said that, following the attacks, they would like to see the numbers increased.
Thirty-seven per cent responded that they previously thought fewer should be accepted “and still do”, whereas 22 per cent said that they had previously thought more should be welcomed and had not changed their minds, meaning that the majority of Scots would like to see fewer Syrian refugees re-homed overall. This puts Scotland broadly in line with the rest of the UK.
Some 15 families arriving today will be settled on the Scottish island of Bute, situated off the West coast of Scotland. The islanders are in two minds about the arrivals, wanting to be welcoming but harbouring concerns regarding safety.
Resident Claire Leonard told The Times: “Originally, I was all for them coming. I felt sorry for them and I was glad they had found a place where they would be safe and well looked after. But what happened in Paris at the weekend has put doubt in my mind. I’m genuinely worried that some undesirable individuals could slip through the net.
“I’m not racist and I’m not callous, but I just want to make sure that my children are safe.”
The National launched in 2014 at a Scottish National Party-hosted event. Its support for, and ties to the ruling Scottish National Party led to the paper being branded “McPravda” by the Scottish Labour Peer George Foulkes, a reference to the official newspaper of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party, Pravda.