Highland Clearances – Zielsdorfs Deported Tomorrow 415

The Zielsdorf family will be deported by the UK Home Office tomorrow, in an act of pointless Tory cruelty that enforces immigration regulations designed for SE England and totally unsuited to the needs of the Highlands. Laggan village store is now closed down.

We called on the Zielsdorf family again two months ago. Having been unable to find anybody else to buy and run the business in Laggan for a sum which would anywhere near clear their investment, they literally have no home to go to in Canada. Jason is hoping to buy an old bus for them to live in. Yes, a bus. They are however a resilient and cheerful family buoyed by their religious faith.

You can find worse acts of Tory cruelty – the cutting of benefits to the terminally ill deemed able to work a few more weeks, for example. But it is hard to conceive of an act of Tory cruelty which is more absolutely pointless than the deportation of the Zielsdorfs. Laggan loses its store, they lose their home and living, and the store/cafe’s employee loses their job. Not to mention the Tory fantasy of leaving the EU and rejoining the British Empire as rather strangely kicking off by deporting Canadians.

I was simply horrified by the nasty comments underneath a story on this in the Scotsman a couple of weeks ago. I will not link to it. I like to think that the nastiness of May does not reflect our society, but there are some deeply unpleasant people out there in the unionist community. The comments also made a large number of totally incorrect assumptions. In fact the Zielsdorfs have claimed no UK benefits of any kind and have used neither the NHS nor the school, they home educate. Personally I think as fully participating and tax-paying members of the community they should have used those state assets, but they were scrupulous in not doing so.

Original Post 17 October 2016:

There is so much injustice in Tory Britain you trip over it when you are not looking. We just enjoyed a long weekend in the Highlands, and stayed through airbnb at the Wayfarers’ Rest in Laggan. Our hosts were the delightful Zielsdorf family, who could not have been more friendly and welcoming. Their kindness and attention were particularly remarkable given they are every second awaiting the arrival of the border force to deport them.

Cameron and some of the Zielsdorf children on the banks of the Spey (with permission)

Cameron and some of the Zielsdorf children on the banks of the Spey (with permission)

Jason and Christy Zielsdorf are Canadian. They have been in Scotland for eight years, legally, and several of their children were born here. After studying theology at St Andrews, Jason decided to stay on. Armed with an entrepreneur visa, two years ago he bought the general store and bothy in the small Highland village of Laggan. The premises had been empty for 18 months, because there is not a rich living in providing this community service. The Zielsdorfs reckoned that by investing in the accommodation and opening a coffee shop highlighting their excellent home cooking (and it really is excellent), they could make a go of it and cater not just for locals but the passing hillwalkers. And they have done.

It took some time and a lot of work for the business to find its feet, and to date they have only been able to give full time employment to one person, not the two their visa stipulates. Although they argue given time their business will reach a stage to employ two people, the Home Office says their time is up and is insisting on their deportation; a month ago they were told they will be deported imminently.

Deporting children who have only ever known Scotland is ludicrous. Fairly well the entire community of Laggan has written in support of the Zielsdorfs. Both Jason and Christy have Scottish ancestry.

It is not easy to run a business in the Highlands and Laggan is better for what the Zielsdorfs have done. Local MP Drew Hendry has worked hard for them, but met only unhelpfulness from the Home Office, who have not even given a ministerial meeting promised in response to a parliamentary question.

We do not know when they will get the 5am knock on the door and be taken into custody. They have been unable to sell the Wayfarers’ Rest, in which they invested £240,000, because just as before they came, nobody else wants to run it. In an act of supreme pettiness, the Home Office have confiscated Jason’s driving licence, which makes life in the Highlands near impossible. Also as a former pastor Jason used to pay community visits on elderly and vulnerable people in isolated locations, which he cannot now do.

The truth is, having set arbitrary numerical limits on net immigration, if the Home office deports the Zielsdorf family that reduces net immigration by seven – and they are low-hanging fruit, easy to find, not able to disappear and defenceless. Their plight is Tory Britain’s heartless xenophobia in action.

This case is a prime example of how ridiculous it is to rule the Highlands from London. The law is framed to deal with the immigration situation in London or Birmingham. It is totally inappropriate to the Highlands, where the problem is under-population, where a village store is a precious thing and providing even one full time job to the community is invaluable.

It is also of course worth noting that it takes a special kind of government stupidity to embark upon post-Brexit relationships by picking on the Canadians.

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415 thoughts on “Highland Clearances – Zielsdorfs Deported Tomorrow

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  • Republicofscotland

    If Scotland wants the brightest and best (like the Brain family) to come, live, work, and make a life here, then we must have independence from Westminster.

      • SF

        What’s she doing? Trying to get immigration policy devolved.
        Can you think of anything better that she should do?

        • Alan

          So nothing directly affecting the Zielsdorfs; just some stuff that might just help sometime in the far distant future, when everything in Scotland is just hunky dory?

          • Alex Waugh

            So, you demand that Sturgeon does something that she cannot do – having no powers over UK Immigration law – and then damn her because she cannot do it. Methinks you have the wrong target in your sights. The real shame here lies with the machinemen who scurry to enact the dictats of a government that wants to be seen to be ‘doing something’ about immigration, mostly in response to UKIP’s frothings at the mouth. Craig’s point is a perfectly valid one, that it is stupid and vindictive to apply regulations designed for English inner cities to the highlands of Scotland. It makes as much sense as putting your cat down because the dog bit you.

      • Republicofscotland


        It was the support mainly by the SNP, that helped the Brain family to remain in the UK, though the public played their part as well, no thanks to Robert Goodwill.

        The Brain family made an appearance, to rapturous applause at the SNP conference last week.

  • Tom Welsh

    A lot of civil servants should be transferred to hard labour, doing much-needed and long-overdue repaisrs to roads or the like. At least they would be prevented from doing such mischief as seeking to deport the Zielsdorfs. We appreciate that government is desperate to keep the unemployment numbers down, but some prices are too high to pay.

    Also, perhaps it is time for all candidates for the civil service or political office to be subjected to psychological tests to determine if they have any empathy, or if they are psychopaths.

    • Alan

      “A lot of civil servants should be transferred to hard labour”

      Now that is an excellent idea. A better idea would be if ALL civil servants be sent to do hard labour. Maybe we’d get the holes in the roads fixed as opposed to building a new runway at Heathrow.

  • Don

    Words fail me Craig, although I am a Scot who has lived in the south of England for many years I am all too aware of the community spirit and Scottish hospitality to all who embrace our country and culture.

    Keep fighting the good fight my friend.

  • Nuada

    Married to a Scot myself, I had planned to come and live in Scotland soon. Well, unless you guys can get London off your backs, that plan is a non-starter after Brexit. My wife wants her EU passport and I have no intention of having my name on a list of foreigners. You simply HAVE to get out from under this garbage.

    • Clark

      If you Google “Laggan” you get “Laggan Stores Coffee Bothy”; it’s all that’s shown on the little map.

      And the Home Office are going to wipe it off.

      • Clark

        No; real anger, Alcyone. Just the normal human reaction to injustice. It passes, as emotions do.

        Anger is much maligned in New Age circles, which is very convenient for authoritarians.

  • Alcyone


    The entrepreneur visa is a points-based-system, ultimately not so different from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (So when was the last time the Zielsdorfs protested on behalf of similar daily rejections, i.e. inadequate points and non-compliance with rules in place, in Canada?

    So let’s say the Home Office grants them an extension, how would you suggest that precedent is dealt with subsequently for other applicants?

    Btw, I suspect these regulations were actually made by the last Labour Government.

    • Kempe

      You’re quite correct. They were phased in between 2008 and 2010.

      Unfortunately the tiny minded, hide-bound bureaucrats who administer and enforce said laws remain the same whover is in power.

      • Alcyone

        Thank you Kempe. That should help limit the Tory bashing although Craig blew the dog-whistle in his opening line:

        “There is so much injustice in Tory Britain you trip over it when you are not looking.”

        Such lap-dog faithfuls here! Although, I have yet .to come across a dog as neurotic as some here.

        • bevin

          Tory Britain was not built overnight. And one of its foundations is the consolidation of the worst aspects of Thatcherism which was the work of Blair’s government.
          Without Blairism- and given the systematic opposition of socialists- nothing like the curremnt Tory government could have come into existence.
          Craig is quite accurate in his characterisation of Tory Britain. As he has frequently made clear he regards Tony’s party-New Labour- as another Tory party.

        • Old Mark

          Good points Alcyone & Kempe

          Even back in the late 60s, under the ultra liberal stewardship of Woy Jenkins, Home Office officials would often ‘make an example’ of old Commonwealth visitors and immigrants, so as to appear ‘even handed’ and colour blind in their application of the rules- something which the unfortunate Zielsdorfs are now experiencing for themselves.

          As a case in point, the recent Telegraph obit of the wonderfuly wacky Gilli Smyth refers to a crucial incident in the life of her husband no1, the even wackier Aussie Daevid Allen, and his peremptory expulsion back to France at the hands of Home Office jobsworths looking for low hanging fruit-


          As the obit states however, the couple soon made fools of the Home Office by turning up at the first Glasto, despite Allen officially being persona non grata!

          It’s a bit late for Craig’s birthday but I’m sure Gilli’s Birkinesque performance on this number will help to calm down his indignation at the Zielsdorfs’ treatment-


      • Civil Service Trade Unionist

        I fear, Kempe, you misunderstand the nature of democracy.

        Politicians are elected; civil servants are not. It is the elected politicians who have a democratic mandate to determine the rules; civil servants do not.

        Civil servants are employed to implement the policies of the government of the day, whatever its political hue. They are required to be politically neutral themselves, and may not decline to carry out the wishes of the elected representatives of the people. If they find themselves unable, in conscience, to carry out an instruction they receive, then they are obliged to resign.

        This is not “tiny mindedness”, and the Civil Servants are not “hide-bound bureaucrats”. It is fundamental to the nature of the British constitutional settlement and political system.

        If Civil Servants were free to disregard the wishes and the policies of the government of the day, where would it end? Do you REALLY want a system in which policy, and its implementation, are determined and dictated by unelected officials whom you are powerless to vote out of office if you do not like the way they are running the country? Think very hard before answering that one, because it is a question which goes to the very heart of the nature of democracy. And if, when you have thought about it, your answer is “no”, then may I suggest that it is not appropriate to criticise the Civil Servants for diligently performing the job which you, and the rest of the British electorate is paying them to do – namely, to carry out the wishes and implement the policies of the government which the British electorate voted for at the last general election.

        • Theresa's EU pawn

          If Civil Servants were free to disregard the wishes and the policies of the government of the day, where would it end?

          If civil servants had the guts to reform themselves on a regular basis, their ancient practises would not be practically interpreted as they are.

          John Garret is spinning in his grave, he never envisaged servitude to inhumanity.

    • lawrenceab

      You make an exception for under-populated rural areas where the entrepreneur provides a service recognized in writing by x % (a majority) of the local residents as a valued contribution to the community. That would be a very simple amendment to write.

      • Old Mark


        That seems a fair suggestion; Under the Localism Act pubs can protect themselves against predatory property developers by raising petitions from local residents and arguing against the Change of Use sought by the developer on the grounds that the establishment is an ‘asset of community value’.

        I’ve no idea if any part of the Localism Act applies in Scotland- if it doesn’t perhaps Sturgeon could do something positive for a change, whip her MSP’s in order, and get the ‘asset of community value’ concept adopted north of the border- and then apply it in cases where the ‘asset’ is operated by immigrants who have fallen foul of the regulations.

        That seems to me a far better way of applying pressure on the UK Home Office to reconsider this draconian decision- it certainly beats constant references to jackboots, an early morning knock on the door, and smug sneering about immigration policies being determined by ‘English racism’.

  • fred

    I wish them luck, hopefully things will turn out all right for them.

    What doesn’t help their case is that recently there was another family in the highlands in similar circumstances, the Brains. The Home Office went out of their way to help them, kept extending their visa to give them chance to find work and eventually gave them the go ahead to stay. Upon which they shat on the British Government from a great hight.


    What a disgusting pathetic arsehole he turned out to be. If those who work at the Home Office don’t feel inclined to go out of their way to help the Zielsdorfs I feel they will have the Brains to thank for it.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Right, Fred, it’s always the fucking people, especially foreigners who work and contribute but are not afraid to open their mouths when complaints are justified.

      Arseholes are everywhere.

    • Alcyone

      I am totally with you on this Fred. Let the rest be water off a duck’s back; ignorance.

    • Node

      I don’t know what you’re on about, Fred. Your Daily Record article is full of photos of the Brain family posing for photos with members of the government and offering grateful thanks for the government help they received.

  • Maxter

    Sickening indeed! Will the Nippie Sweetie do anything? Lets see whats she is made of! Im waiting!

  • lysias

    Decent civil servants use common sense in deciding when to apply rules, and when not to apply them.

    • Alcyone

      It’s a points-based-system. You either cut-the-mustard or you don’t. I don’t believe there is room for discretion. The rules are transparent.

      • Martin Cunningham

        A points based system that caters for immigration and population issues somewhere completely different from these people. This is the problem that Craig is talking about. A one-size-fits-all immigration policy does not work in a state with severely contrasting immigration and population needs.

        It’s not hard …

        • Alcyone

          Understand and hopefully in time when the majority in the country feel taht we are at even keel, some fine-tuning can take place.

          In the meantime and conversely, one swallow doesn’t make a summer.

      • Alcyone

        So obviously she had a dubious background, on a terrorists list or didn’t know how to fill up a form. Alternatively, you are on a list of ‘interested persons’ — i wonder why since you seem as harmless as a fly, though just as sticky.

      • Alcyone

        I think the one who should suck it down is your mother-in-law. Was she by any chance plying a trade on the side at the Mighty US Navy? That would’ve been a perfectly good reason for her visa to be rejected.

        So calm down your retard comments else I’ll treat you with the Fred Doctrine.

      • Macky

        “I don’t believe there is room for discretion. The rules are transparent.”

        LOL ! I’ve just realised that this Summer I’ve must have actually met Alcyone/Villager, or at least his mindset double; in Boston one night, my partner & I decided to dine on the famous Bostonian red lobster, the waiter taking our order actually asked to see both our passports, when I asked why, thinking perhaps it was some sort of security measure, he said it was a legal requirement to verify our ages for alcohol , once that had sunk in, I asked him if he would describe us both as either young or middle age ? “Middle Aged” he replied, so I then said in that case then surely there is no need to see passports, especially as only I had mine with me, “no sorry sir, I have to see passports otherwise no alcohol”; at this stage my partner was getting up to walk out, but I gave a wink and said to the waiter,”look, I’m actually really really thirsty, so I’ll like to have two drinks, one to quench my first straight away & the other to sip while waiting for the food”; the look of bewilderment & panic was a joy to see, and even better when he stomped off red-faced ! 😀

  • Alcyone

    From the article you linked:

    “The Home Office “made me feel like a criminal,” Jason Zielsdorf told the National Post. “Legally they’re right. Morally, they’ve crossed the line.”

    This guy definitely needs to improve his diplomatic and social skills, just in case he’s still planning to pursue this, which I suspect is highly likely not to bear fruit.

  • Sharp Ears

    GB (Great Britain) which we could not avoid seeing plastered all over the returning Olympian fest on BBC earlier* is a fascist state.

    * The BBC even delayed the evening news for the mindless stuff.

    • Alcyone

      On a more serious note, I wonder how many countries in the world you have travelled to in your life that you came to rest in GB and hate her on a daily basis?

      • Sharp Ears

        @ 22.21 My valid point was that this country is fascist.

        Anyway makes a change from doing your best to write off the family’s bid for residence in a Scottish village.

        • Alcyone

          Isn’t Israel more so? Should we disrupt the thread then and talk about their immigration policy?

          Here’s a tip: Every time you feel the urge to disrupt or distract, retire to TLN and start your own new thread there. Or I see space within this blog’s website on ‘Topics’. Maybe you can make an entry there? Else this is going to be a Red or Black Oktober.

      • Shatnersrug

        We don’t hate the country just Authoritarianism. Doesn’t suit this country at all.

      • fwl

        The show of respect is personally distasteful to me. Please do not laugh. If there were true respect you would not only show it to me but to all. Your show of respect to me only indicates a mentality of barter. You think I am going to give you something, or help you in some way, and so you show respect. What you are really doing is showing respect to an idea that you should display consideration to a person who may help you, but out of this false respect there is born contempt for others. There is no consideration of the ideas in themselves, but unfortunately only of the person who gives forth these ideas. In this lies grave danger, leading to reciprocal exploitation. The mere respect of authority indicates fear which breeds many illusions. From this false respect, there arises the artificial distinction between leaders and followers, with its many obvious and subtle forms of exploitation. Where there is no intelligence there is respect for the few and disdain for the rest.

      • Sharp Ears

        I saw much of apartheid South Africa and didn’t like it one bit.

        This sort of notice was everywhere. It gave a very uncomfortable feeling especially on the beaches.


        and as YOU mentioned Israel, it’s just the same there. The Palestinians are given permits to use the Tel Aviv beaches. Big deal.

        IN PHOTOS: Palestinians Celebrate Id al-Fitr on Tel Aviv Beach
        Thousands of Palestinians used permits given by the Israeli authorities allowing many to enjoy the beaches along Israel’s Mediterranean shoreline during the holiday.
        Haaretz | 
        Jul 20, 2015 11:17 AM

  • Suzanne

    There is indeed action being taken to try and prevent the family from being deported: by their MSP, who is the person most appropriate to act on their behalf. Just as it has been for others in the same position.

    Not clear why some here are moaning about inaction.

    The sooner we have control over immigration the better it will be for all of us. It’s ridiculous to apply rules that are not appropriate to the Highlands. The worst cut of all is taking away his driving licence and treating him like a criminal. He’s not. He’s trying to keep a community resource open and is adding value to the area. He is valued and welcomed by us. By the vicious Tories – not so much.

    • Alan

      “The sooner we have control over immigration the better it will be for all of us.”

      That sounds like something those “racists down south” would say. Are you sure you aren’t one of “them”?

  • fwl

    I think it must be one and the same. Last accidents here in 1921 and 1948 i.e. it is well run.

  • fwl

    Oh I seem to have had my post deleted. Perhaps it was not appropriate and so I shall not repeat save to revert to my initial question and note that the RTR German version of the story does suggest two incidents.

  • Alan

    The question was, that you have found yourself unable to answer and thus resort to personal attacks and insults, “what has Nicola Sturgeon done about this matter?”

    And obviously the answer is SFA. Thank you for providing the answer that I expected; the Scottish Nationalist leader only cares about Scots; much the same as nationalists of all kinds and creeds.

  • Stuart B

    “Cameron and some of the Zielsdorf children on the banks of the Spey (with permission)”

    Why “with permission”

    • glenn_uk

      Presumably, because the photograph was taken by someone else, and was their intellectual property.

      • Krief

        More likely because putting photos of other people’s children online *without* permission is a definite no-no.

    • Rose

      It’s sad that this family are struggling to stay in a place where they are settled and where they are appreciated. I hope it works out for them. What a lovely picture though and Cameron looks a real chip off the old block. .

  • Dave Archer

    This will likely be bureaucracy in action and not politicians. All democracy’s now suffer these overpaid oafs, completely out of touch with reality who are unabe to make a decision despite being highly paid (supposedly to attract higher skills). Here is a family who have supported themselves, created their own jobs and desperately want to stay in your country and a bureaucrat say’s it’s black and white only. Employ another person and bankrupt your business and get deported when the business fails, or get deported now. We don’t want people who give it ago.

  • ScotsLass

    Similar situation to us. Canadian citizens with Scottish ancestry visas, we recently lived and worked in Scotland for seven years. Planned to remain, loved the country and the people, but had to jump through UKBA hoops at thousands of pounds a pop every few years to stay legal. In the end we would have had to write that test to prove we were British enough, while your new German and Latvian friends could waltz in, settle, and stay forever, no questions asked, no papers required.

    The UK has turned its back on its closest friends and deserves what it gets.

  • giyane

    It has to be said that it takes a particular kind of government stupidity to manipulate elections with the resulting blow-back from the punters that kicks the PM out of office.

      • Old Mark


        You’ll be pleased to note that the immigration junior minister in this case, according to the report linked to, has stayed the deportation order, in other words he’s overruled the decision taken on the ground at Inverness airport by the jobsworth concerned.

        FWIW the immigration minister is an English Tory- what are the odds on the jobsworth immigration officer in Inverness having the same nationality and political outlook as the minister ?

  • Martin

    Well written and cuts to the bone. Stupidity and being out of touch are the orders of the day here. Dreadful plight for this family. My heart goes out to them and anyone else that Westminster sees fit to dehumanise.

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