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7 October 2016

Watch Nicola Sturgeon’s powerful rebuttal to anti-immigration rhetoric

The First Minister of Scotland told MSPs they were privileged to have "new Scots" among them. 

By Julia Rampen

At the Conservative party conference, Theresa May’s ministers laid out plans to force companies to publish a list of foreign workers, curb international students and prioritise “homegrown” doctors. The Prime Minister herself declared that anyone who considered themselves a citizen of the world was “a citizen of nowhere”. 

But the First Minister of Scotland is taking a very different tack. Nicola Sturgeon denounced the Tories’ “toxic rhetoric” in a joint statement with the leaders of the Green and Plaid Cymru parties. 

Now, footage of her speech at the formal opening of the Holyrood parliament in July is being shared around the internet. In it, she set out a sweeping rebuke to anti-immigration sentiment, and social media users are responding. 

Recalling how the first First Minister, Labour’s Donald Dewar, had described a Scottish parliament as “more than our politics and our laws”, she continued: 

“So allow me to reflect on who we are in Scotland today. We are more than 5m men and women, adults, yong pople and children, each with our own life stories, family histories and our own hopes and dreams.

“We’re the grandchildren and the great grandchildren of the thousands who came from Ireland to work in our shipyards and in our factories. We are the 80,000 Polish people, the 8,000 Lithuanians, the 7,000 each from France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Latvia, who are among the many from countries beyond our shores that we are so privileged to have living here amongst us.

“We are the more than half a million people born in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who have chosen to live here in Scotland. We are the thousands of European students studying at our universities and our colleges, and we are the doctors and nurses from all across our continent and beyond, who care for us daily in our National Health Service.

“Whether we have lived here for generations, or are new Scots from Europe, India, Pakistan, Africa and countries across the globe we are all of this and more. We are so much stronger for the diversity that shapes us. We are one Scotland. We are simply home to all those who have chosen to live here. That is who and what we are.”

Sturgeon urged Scots to “celebrate our differences” and “treat others with respect”. She has signed a joint statement with the leaders of the Green and Plaid Cymru parties denouncing the Tories’ “toxic rhetoric”. 

Social media users responded to a clip of the speech by sharing pictures of their family with the hashtag #WeAreScotland.

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