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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  • Susan

    Shows the total arbitrary approach of this government to the question of immigration ….no consideration for needs of individuals or the diversecommunities which make up the UK. Westminster is completely out of touch with most of the country. In order out of EU Scotland should be able to set its own rules on immigration in line with the needs of its communities.

  • Sheliz MacKenzie

    I thought Canadians were part of the British Empire!
    These people are contributing to the local economy, also to the British economy, in these times of Austerity, they have employed one person, ok, but that is one less person claiming benefits,
    The situation is ridiculous.
    They are giving to the country not taking.
    The sooner the better we get rid of this heartless Tory Government the better
    The family should be able to stay.

  • Stacie MacDonald

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I shared your post on facebook. Today I started a petition with the govenrment – lets see if we can get the signatures needed!

    I’ve made a petition – will you sign it?

    Click this link to sign the petition:

    My petition:

    Stop the deportation of the Zeilsdorf Family from Laggan.

    The family are waiting for imminent deportation as they have failed to meet the criteria of their Entrepreneur Visa by employing 2 people in their tiny shop and coffee bothy in Laggan. They do employ 1, they have 3 children, and take care of the local rural community by providing a valuable service.

    They are being forced to leave before they can sell. There’s every chance that the business will not continue and the area will lose it’s shop. Other similar services are tens of miles away. Their children are Scottish, they employ someone, and they make regular visits to local elderly and house bound people in the community as Jason was a Pastor. It is not the Highlands, Scotland or Scottish people who don’t want and them; it is just the Home Office. We NEED them – sign to keep the Zeilsdorfs.

    Click this link to sign the petition:

    • David austin

      I have just tried to sign your petition and found that the government has a block on it and I need to try again in a few days…!!

    • Courtenay Barnett


      I am curious:-

      1. I went to the Petition and saw that it was “closed”.

      2. I also saw that it said that Petitions run for 6 months.

      Question: When did you commence the Petition?


      • Shatnersrug

        Courtney, if you look it says closed today, so I’d suggest that it was closed soon after it was posted

  • Chas Logan

    The real highland clearances are at the hands of the SNP led Scottish government who have systematically reduced services and support for rural areas by pushing through their ‘stealth agenda’ for the future should Scotland become independent. Remove dispensing doctors, slash healthcare provision, close schools in very rural areas, for example, means the sustainability of the area is so fractured only the most robust can stay. Young families and the elderly are forced to move to less rural /urban locations but this is not seen as a government initiative but individual choice and so the stealth clearances go unnoticed. The saving by centralising services can go towards off setting the big black hole in scotlands finances.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        I think that if you move to a remote rural area and expect everything to function exactly as it does in Edinburgh, you’re a dreamer. If you want your every need promptly attended to, stay in the ‘burbs. And the more people that move to the Highlands, the less of a romantic idyll it becomes. For romantic idyll, see the former locals who liquidated their -often inherited – assets by selling them to dreamers and moved south. Why? Because there’s sod-all you can do for a living in most of the Highlands beyond raising sheep, farming trees, or selling each other tartan tat.. And where there is an industry, it’s already urbanised to the extent that it is no longer scenically attractive. You can’t eat scenery.

      • Muscleguy

        Yet if you had a difficult birth and your midwife in Wick did not move fast enough or recognise the seriousness of the situation you would doubtless be the first to cry foul too.

        It is the way of modern medicine, if you want excellence in healthcare then it can only be provided in a few centers. Those 3 beds will likely be for expectant mothers in the peak of health and with one successful birth under their episiotomy scars.

        Others likely in need of specialist care will, yes have to go to Inverness. Such is life if you want good care.

        With our eldest my wife was in labour for 3 days. Then she had an epidural and dilated enough for a forceps delivery, a caesar was always a possibility. I was doing a PhD in Physiology so knew a thing or two. We were under the care of the professorial unit at a major regional teaching hospital (you only get to do physiology PhDs in medical schools). Later on we were invited to the professor’s daughter’s wedding as we knew the groom.

        I shudder to think how my wife and child might have fared in the likes of Wick. Almost certainly a long, uncomfortable ambulance ride if not a helicopter. As it is Dunedin, NZ has a big hinterland and women in labour are often airlifted or taken by ambulance to Dunedin hospital to give birth. Dunedin is about the size of Dundee with less population in the hinterland. It has NZ’s oldest university and medical school.

        • fred

          Wick has a hospital and we have the equipment, all we need is a Consultant Obstetrician, like we had ten years ago when the SNP came to power.

          • jake

            Getting a consultant obstertrician isn’t a problem in NHS Highland or anyhere else in Scotland for that matter…the problem is they all get sent home because they’re foreigners and they aren’t allowed to stay. I personally have had to explain to angry and frustrated Clinical Services Managers why they had to terminate the employment contract of clinical/medical staff who were highly skilled, liked, well respected and who wanted to stay all just because of stupid immigration rules. We agreed on this though that we couldn’t understand the logic of paying top dollar to a recruitment organisation for temporary cover, along with the cost of first class flights and accomodation/hotel costs that a variety and series of temporary replacements necessitated. NO, Fred, this wasn’t SNP policy this was Mrs May’s policy when she was in charge of the Home Office and immigration.

          • fred


            Why can’t those spineless rats at Holyrood stand up and take some responsibility instead of whinging that everything that is wrong is Westminster’s fault? FFS Health has been devolved long enough now, it’s their job, they wanted it, it’s not Westminster’s fault they are incompetent.

            There are plenty of doctors in Europe, immigration doesn’t come into it. If there is a shortage of doctors in Scotland it’s because the Scottish government hasn’t offered the incentives. Maybe if they were to spend the money allocated to Scotland for health on the health service instead of stealing it for other things they might be able to offer that incentive.


          • JOML

            Also, Fred, from jake’s post, it’s clear they have first hand experience of this issue in the NHS. Is your experience first hand, second hand or just your personal perception?

          • fred

            Jeesus just one Goddam excuse after another.

            And no I don’t consider the Vicar of Bath a reliable source of information.

            The facts are clear enough. When spending on the health in England and Wales increases more money is allocated to Scotland through the Barnett formula. The Scottish government has not been increasing spending on the health service in Scotland by a corresponding amount.


            That is the truth whether you do a hatchet job on a retired hard working medical professional or not.

            And yes I know Fraser Whyte doesn’t like Nationalists, everybody with any sense doesn’t like Nationalists.

          • JOML

            So, Fred, Scotland’s NHS are consistently out performing the NHS in England and Wales, despite the SNP holding back funding increases (accepting your selection of sources).

          • defo

            Cancer specialist who’s long retired, and was active for Bitter the gither.
            WTF don’t you just GTF out of Scotland Fred ? You obviously hate Scots, and Scotland.
            How’s Sylvia these days ? Left you, has she ?

          • fred

            As how well the NHS is doing in Scotland it can always do better and it should strive to do better and we should be campaigning for it to do better.

            Unfortunately there are a lot of people so obsessed with the independence cult worshipping the SNP as Gods and will not accept the SNP as anything less than perfect.

            Do they issue you with a list of stock answers? “It’s Westminster’s fault” “things are worse in England” “Labour did that before we came to power” etc. etc. etc. Some poor young mother who just gave birth in the back of an ambulance half way to Inverness couldn’t care less what things are like in England she just knows they are crap here.

            People obviously care a lot more about one Canadian family than they do about every family in an entire Scottish county.

          • fred

            “Cancer specialist who’s long retired, and was active for Bitter the gither.
            WTF don’t you just GTF out of Scotland Fred ? You obviously hate Scots, and Scotland.
            How’s Sylvia these days ? Left you, has she ?”

            Typical Nationalists. Send in the thugs to bully and intimidate anyone who stands up for the rights of the people.

            Well I won’t be intimidated, I will continue to stand up for the young mothers in the Highlands, they deserve better and I will argue their cause as how much personal abuse the Nationalist black Black Shirts throw at me.

          • fred

            More personal abuse and intimidation from the Nationalist Yestapo.

            What sort of a country do people want Scotland to be? A country where someone who stand up for the rights of young mothers is attacked and intimidated by government thugs and bullies?

            They say their nationalism is different, not like the BNP or EDL, they lie, nationalists are all the same.

          • defo

            “People obviously care a lot more about one Canadian family than they do about every family in an entire Scottish county”
            Pound to a penny alcohol contributes heavily to these delusional, halfwit ramblings of yours Fred.
            And don’t come over all injured party, butter wouldn’t meltish.
            YOUNG mothers. ffs. .

          • jake

            “Why can’t those spineless rats at Holyrood stand up and take some responsibility instead of whinging that everything that is wrong is Westminster’s fault?”
            Immigration Policy is a reserved matter. So is employment law. It has nothing to do with Holyrood.

  • Zandra Mathieson

    Why do they not take all individual circumstances into account. Shame on the immigration services.

    • Kempe

      One word; bureaucrats. Stick rigidly to the rules, even if they’re not rules only guidelines, it saves them from having to do any thinking.

  • Carolyn Kear

    Absolutely ridiculous , we should be encouraging people to locate to these areas and do what this family is doing , not deporting them!!!

  • Dave Blackham

    What a terrible situation that has been caused soley by government mal administration. Truly shameful of our government and outdated rules on imigration.

  • Jackie

    How ridiculous. There are so many undesirables allowed it to this country, yet they feel the need to deport families that have enhanced Scotland.
    Typical for this country.

  • Sheila MacFarlane

    That is so wrong ! The Tory English government continues to use every lever to depopulate the Highlands. We are still post Culloden ! The family ought to be allowed to stay and given a bit more help like a loan for their business.

  • Elaine Falkner

    Plain stupid!! They are deported and someone in need of employment loses their job presumably.

  • meg

    This makes me very angry and sad.The sense of frustration for such ridiculous ruling is overwhelming.When will we be able to apply common sense to situations like this.?Would having our own government would allow the application of common sense and compassion?We must make sure it does and be watchful.Having power can alter ones perspectives.Heathrow? comes to mind.

  • Tom Ramage, Strathspey Herald

    We have been covering this story since breaking it in March. It still makes no sense. And seeing the ‘integrity’ of the law shattered by favours being paid to rich Oxbridge students who want to stay on in this country longer only exacerbates the bitter sense of injustice which has pervaded this case from day one.

  • johnf

    This country gets more like the dying Soviet Union every day – rigid orthodoxy, dogmatic laws, rigged news media, cruel and irrelevant laws, a deeply dysfunctional economy, politicians and the elite speaking a language no one else speaks or even understands anymore – sclerosis (and cruelty).

    • Habbabkuk

      Political assassinations on the street near the Kremlin (whoop,! I meant Westminster) !

      You silly, silly man.

  • reel guid

    The UK, the land of opportunity.

    Providing of course that you’ve got a few million quid already.

  • Scott

    I have said before this family should stay where they are and let the Home Office do there own dirty work and not use the Scottish Police and also the Scottish Government should defy any dictat from Westminster.
    This family will go away with a very bad taste in their mouth about our country.

    • Sharp Ears

      As you say, the children will have an everlasting memory of this action by the Nasty Party.

      We have always welcomed immigrants and refugees – those from the Pale, the Huguenots, the Kinder children, even oligarchs who have ripped off the Russian people.

      • Fuddlededee

        ACtually you will find , I think, that all active petitions and government work has been stopped following the formal dissolution of this current shower in Westminster Villas.

        One can always come up woth a conspiracy theory on the timing etc. How many more folk have been given their marching orders today?

        It is down to those of you who are allowed vote to bluster and fuss by participating in making the change on 8th June.
        The time for sitting on the sofa, wringing your hands and shouting on Craig’s blog are over.
        Complacency is a vote for the status quo and that is not what most of you here want, so it is down to you to effect that change.

  • glenn_uk

    Utterly heartless. Such cruelty comes from truly weak people, terrified of making an exception for obviously worthy cases, lest someone accuse them of going soft.

  • Dave

    The case illustrates the down side of open door immigration and equality legislation that means you can’t lawfully discriminate between good and bad immigrants.

    • Shatnersrug

      Dave, have you been at the sherry. Your comment is awfully confused

  • reel guid

    What was that again that Home Secretary Amber Rudd said after the terrorist incidents at Westminster?

    Something about UK values being upheld wasn’t it?

    Weasel words.

    • Dave

      They weren’t upheld by the interim head of the Metropolitan Police who witnessed the attack and drove away!!!

  • reel guid

    The Zielsdorfs have played an important and valued part in their community yet are to be deported. And Laggan will lose the village shop. Always an important thing for a rural village. The Tories also brought brexit to Scotland’s rural communities which rely so much on EU investment and grants. All areas of Scotland voted to remain.

    Despite all that the Scots Tories and their obnoxious grinning leader think that all they have to do is parade themselves and their slogans around in the campaign and the rural seats will come to them as if by right.

    They’ll avoid any discussion of how being out the EU will affect the Highlands, the Islands and the Borders.
    But they’ll tell you that you’re not going to get the chance to stop Scotland leaving the EU with a second referendum.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Ignoring the emotions, as I usually do, I can’t help thinking there’s a back story here. A Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa gives indefinite leave to remain, I think. As long as the conditions are met. Some poor sod along the way has to decide whether there is any prospect of the conditions being met, that of employing a minimum of two people in this case. Or whether the business plan had been tested to destruction by now. I know which way I’d have jumped. There are plenty of shops within easy driving distance: Laggan isn’t a major tourist centre, and investment to grow the business wasn’t available. Even if there had been wriggle room, there was every prospect of the Zielsdorfs coming back in another five years and saying, ‘ Sorry. We didn’t succeed in starting a retail empire, and we’re still only employing one person.’

    BTW, home schooling isn’t exactly an intuitive way of integrating your kids with the local community, is it?

    And don’t start me on godbotherers who chuck rocks into salmon pools.

    • reel guid

      If Scotland had become independent – as we should have – in 2016, the Zielsdorfs would not be getting deported.

      We could be discussing what Scotland could be doing with our newly set up oil . Not having to deal with Tory nastiness.

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      just a tad contrarian,old reptile?
      Sympathy not a personality trait of the reptilian brain?
      Chucking rocks in a salmon pool? You mean kids playing? Besides, looks more like a gentle lob. Am sure the salmon will not even know.

  • reel guid

    Former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, Professor Miguel Maduro has said to a European Parliament committee that there had been nothing to stop Scotland remaining in the EU and the UK. Professor Maduro cited the Denmark and Greenland case.

    So thank you once again to Theresa May and her blue nasties for doing everything in their power to ruin Scotland and close down all our opportunities and options.

    • MJ

      The option to leave the UK remains of course but it appears the majority of Scots don’t want that. How spineless they are.

      • Republicofscotland

        Spineless, is Theresa May-hem refusing to guarentee EU citizens the right to stay in Britain. Instead of allaying their fears May-hem, has only compounded them.

  • Bill Rollinson

    Heartless Tories, but mark my words, they’ll use this to their ends. I’ve no doubt they will try to set some kind of precedent here.
    People were against ‘mass immigration’ because of the number of unskilled attacking our Welfare, Housing and Jobs, not those who came and added to the Nation.
    I can only wish the Zieldorfs well in their future endeavours.

  • Republicofscotland

    It’s a ridiculous state of affairs, that a English parliament around 500 miles away decides who is allowed to stay in Scotland (another country) and who is not allowed to stay.

    Scotland has a aging population and need immigration, to help pay for and sustain our elderly population, as well as living and working in Scotland.

    In my opinion the British government are using a one size fits all immigration approach, which cleary isn’t working for Scotland, again independence is the only real way to take control.

    • reel guid


      David Mundell could have at least attempted to intervene on this. But of course he not only never stands up for Scotland but happily joins in with the rest of the Westminster Tory wrecking crew.

      Derek Bateman has a great piece on his blog from the other day about the difference between some Scottish Tory figures of the past and the current Scottish self-haters like Ruth Davidson. He writes about how 1980s Tory Scottish Secretary George Younger often stood up for Scotland against the decisions of Margaret Thatcher and the cabinet. Derek compares that to the useless and obsequious Mundell who has never raised an objection to May’s decisions about Scotland.

      • Republicofscotland

        Yes rell guid, Mundell’s a weasel of a man, doing everything he can to appease Theresa May-hem- possibly hoping to be nominated to the House of Lords, for services rendered.

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