chooseLast night I happened to be in Holyrood when the Refugee Week reception was on. I spent a year working for the Scottish Refugee Council when the Scottish Parliament was first established, and it’s been an issue I’ve felt strongly about ever since. So I took a glass of wine and listened to Christina McKelvie give the welcome speech.

The section addressed to those visitors to Holyrood who were refugees, asylum seekers or immigrants was basically perfect. Just as I’ve always felt, she told them she was so proud when people choose to make Scotland their home, and proud when we’re able to provide a haven for someone whose own country isn’t safe for them any more.

The theme was heritage, an issue where I often find the tone used by SNP politicians jarring. But not last night. Once you’ve chosen to be here, she said, as time passes you become part of Scotland’s heritage too. You become a strand in our tartan. It’s a splendidly inclusive message for people who’ve arrived here.

But not everyone who comes here gets a warm welcome, she said. Cue puzzled looks. Just a few weeks ago one man got a proper heckling on the High Street. It was made very clear to him that he wasn’t welcome. He claimed it was anti-English sentiment, which came as news to one of the Cambridge-born organisers.

It wasn’t anti-Englishness, she said. It was anti-fascism. And we clapped.

There’s been a lot of pontificating about free speech from Tom Harris and the like after Farage’s visit. Incidentally, Tom thinks #disparagetheFarage was a “mob of nationalists and trots“, but he was unable to say which of these categories he thought covered Labour activist Duncan Hothersall, inventor of the excellent hashtag and one of us who encouraged folk to doorstep Farage. He’s also reluctant in that piece to accept that Patrick Harvie has a proper job title, and he thinks the objections to Farage are because UKIP want us to leave the EU. Not at all: that’s a perfectly respectable aim, even if Farage’s reasons for being anti-European are diametrically opposed to the issues that make me sometimes wonder how I’d vote on the EU. It’s his racism people primarily object to. But “free speech” is how Tom attacks the protest, as others on the right did.

There are many things wrong with that argument. Does Tom think the antifa shouldn’t turn out a counter-protest when the EDL are on the streets? Also, anyone who thinks Farage was “silenced” or doesn’t have freedom of speech clearly hasn’t seen a telly this year, and yes, he’s free to come here just as we’re free to protest his abhorrent views – but the final implication of Christina’s speech is probably the key reason I’m so proud of the people who disparaged him.

It’s this: you have to choose. If you make Nigel Farage welcome in Scotland, then Scotland will inevitably feel a less welcoming place to every refugee, every asylum seeker, every Polish or Romanian expat who’s chosen to live here, just as much of England already does. If a peaceful protest sends him packing with his tail between his legs, it tells all those people that we’re on their side, that we value their role in our communities and in our economy.

The women in glorious West African garb in the Garden Lobby last night who beamed in delight as Christina McKelvie told them they were going to be part of Scotland’s heritage one day: they will indeed be threads in Scotland’s tartan. And that simple fact means we can’t make room in the weave for UKIP’s colours.