IT’S the 1st December as I write.  I’m in the House of Commons Library and am looking forward to travelling home at the weekend.

We are going to put up the Christmas tree and sing carols loudly – in my partner’s case completely out of tune. He’d probably say the same about me.

The news down here has been dominated by another awful tragedy in the Channel.

At least twenty-seven people, including children, died when their dinghy was reportedly struck by a huge ship in the perilous waters dividing England from France.

Heart-rending pictures of the victims are emerging in the press.

A river of crocodile tears is flowing through the Commons.

I’ve been on the BBC debating the issue.

It’s my view that we have to change the narrative on asylum seekers. We need to stop asking ‘what can we do to stop these people from coming’ and start asking ‘how can we help these brave people get here safely?’

No one risks the terrors of the Channel in an open boat if they feel they’ve alternatives. They come because they speak some English, because they’ve relatives in the UK, and, most importantly, because they’re fleeing persecution, torture, and war.

Refugee numbers are half of what they were twenty years ago. We take in fewer people than France, and vastly smaller numbers than Germany.

We make it as hard as possible for anyone to arrive through any UK Government resettlement scheme. We have no immigration programme for those we have abandoned in Afghanistan, and we do little to help families reunite.

We have even closed our borders to child refugees in northern France. As Lord Dubbs said, that decision did “an enormous service to the human traffickers.”

It’s no surprise that one of the twenty-seven who died in the Channel was an Afghan soldier who’d worked with British forces. His family said he’d decided to make the dangerous crossing after “waiting so long for help from Britain.”

Another who died was a young Kurdish woman desperately trying to reach her fiancé. She’d exhausted all the official routes. Our behaviour is heartless.

Next week, I will be voting against the UK Government’s cruel Nationality and Borders Bill.

The Home Secretary says its aim is to stop economic migrants. But her own department’s analysis shows the vast majority of those crossing the Channel in boats are proven to be legitimate asylum seekers.

Their applications should never have been denied in the first place.

But in any event, what’s wrong with being an economic migrant?

We know that Scotland is underpopulated and needs young, ambitious, well-educated people to come.

Businesses in our constituency, post-Brexit, are crying out for staff. 

Scotland’s problem has always been excessive emigration, not excessive immigration. We must make it easier for people to find sanctuary in our country and to make Scotland their home.

As we hear again the Christmas story, we are reminded it’s a tale of love and welcome.

Its lessons are timeless. 

I wish you and yours a happy and peaceful holiday season.