Ever since I was a little girl, the women in my Dominican family have talked non stop about the formidable Scotland family from Castle Bruce in Dominica.
This well known family is held in huge esteem by all Dominicans, and the children of Dominicans, for the way Mr and Mrs Scotland managed to raise twelve children, all of whom became high achievers through sheer hard work, talent and resilience.
When I was studying at Walthamstow School for Girls, I always had Patricia Scotland at the back of my mind. Whever I would feel like slacking, my mum would remind me of the careers advisor at Walthamstow Girls who told Patricia Scotland not to bother becoming a lawyer but to go and work in a supermarket instead. Patricia Scotland, rightly, ignored that teacher and decided to “neglect not the gift that is in thee“. She became one of my heroines ever since I became old enough to fully comprehend the significance of her achievements. I knew that if Patrica Scotland could go to University – having attended a normal, local comprehensive like Walthamstow Girls and not some posh fee paying school and then manage to become the youngest QC since William Pitt the Younger – then me and all the other working class girls at Walthamstow Girls could also achieve whatever we wanted too.
While working out in Brussels as a trainee speechwriter at the European Commission seven years ago, I was, therefore, absolutely over the moon to bump into Patricia Scotland in the European Parliament (where she had come to represent Britain at a Justice and Home Affairs European Council meeting) and tell her just how amazing I think she is.
Patricia Scotland has had no silver spoon shoved in her mouth from aged 2 days old. Her rise was based on hard work, integrity and a true love of people and justice.
Patricia Scotland is the victim in the awful situation she’s found herself in over the last few days and she should be treated as so. Her former employee should be ashamed of herself for firstly having abused Patricia Scotland’s trust and then – even worse – having the gall to sell her story to the papers.
I normally have great sympathy for people who have found themselves in Britain illegally through some traumatic experience that occured in their home country – war, poverty or genocide. That’s why I support a proper amnesty for illegal immigrants who are already here, would be at risk if they went home or who just want to earn an honest crust for their families and pay their taxes.
In this cleaner’s case, however, I hope they deport her as soon as possible.
Gordon Brown has risen in my estimation this week for the instinctive solidarity he has shown Patricia Scotland and whatever happens to her, I hope that she knows that she is loved, admired and respected by thousands of people in this country and always will be.