Neither stupid nor timid

The “campaigners” referred to in this headline from The National today – SNP must ‘reassure’ voters on pensions ahead of indyref2, campaigners say – must think pensioners are all extremely stupid. A few undoubtedly are. A few more will find it expedient to pretend to be stupid. But most of us are perfectly capable of working out for ourselves that pension entitlement accrued when working for one company doesn’t just evaporate into thin air when you change jobs. Why then would pension entitlement accumulated when you are a citizen of one country simply vanish when you become a citizen of another country, either instead of or as well as the first country?

Determined scaremongers will say that changing nationality isn’t like changing jobs. Some pensioners will be stupid enough to assume without further explanation that this means there cannot be relevant parallels. Others will choose to appear stupid enough to assume this because it suits some devious purpose to do so. Most of us will just shrug and get on with our lives as certain as anyone ever can be about anything that our pension will continue to be paid once independence is restored. Because there is no reason to believe otherwise.

Most pensioners, I’m sure, are perfectly capable of grasping the fact that there is no pensions ‘pot’ – as in a separate fund used only for pensions and topped up from taxes and borrowing. Most of us have sense enough to realise that such a ‘pot’ would make no sense. Most of us would see that it makes more sense to have pensions paid directly from tax revenues and borrowing – the way everything else is paid for by governments.

Not being stupid, and having no ulterior motive informed by some political agenda, most pensioners like myself are well able to figure out that if pensions paid in any country are funded from the taxes levied by and borrowing undertaken by that country, then pensions in Scotland must be paid from the taxes raised in Scotland made up when necessary by money that is borrowed.

I don’t consider myself significantly more intelligent than the average pensioner and I immediately follow the chain of logic which takes me in no time at all to the realisation that the only thing that changes with the restoration of Scotland’s independence is which government administers the tax and borrowing. At present, tax raised in Scotland is administered by a government in England which is not elected by taxpayers in Scotland. Likewise, the money which is invariably needed to meet expenditure on pensions etc in Scotland is borrowed on our behalf by a government in England which has no democratic legitimacy in Scotland. A government which is not democratically accountable to the people of Scotland. A government over which we have to control and no meaningful influence.

Most pensioners who think the thing through cannot help but conclude that the only thing which changes with regard to their pensions when Scotland’s independence is restored is that taxes and borrowings which pay their pensions will cease to be administered by what is effectively a foreign government and will instead be in the hands of a government elected by and accountable to the people of Scotland.

I think I can safely presume to speak for most pensioners in Scotland when I say that we are democrats. Which means we adhere to the principle that ultimate political authority is vested entirely in the people and that political authority – such as the authority to levy taxes and borrow money – can only be legitimate to the extent that it derives from and inevitably returns to the people. It takes no great intelligence at all to see that the political authority asserted by the British political elite cannot be democratically legitimate. That authority can only be democratically legitimate in Scotland if it is sanctioned by the people of Scotland. As it will be when independence is restored.

The corollary to this – patronising “campaigners” take note – is that even if the government of the rest of the UK (rUK) were to renege on its obligations to people who had accumulated pension entitlement under their undemocratic administration, the tax-levying and borrowing authority that they wielded would simply pass to the government of Scotland. Nothing else would change. We would still pay the taxes which have always funded pensions or the borrowing needed to pay pensions. There would be no necessary or likely impact on pensions at all.

In the end, the matter of pensions, like every other aspect of the constitutional issue, distils down to a simple question of trust. Given that there is no rational reason to suppose pension payments will be adversely affected in any way, who do you trust more to administer the taxes and borrowing involved? Who do you, as a citizen of Scotland, choose to entrust with the political authority which is yours alone to bestow as you see fit? Do you want to be able to choose the government on which your rely for your pension? Or are you happy to have no choice at all in the matter? Will you put your trust in a government elected by the people of Scotland? Or are you content that the people of England choose that government for you?

Most pensioners in Scotland are, I am certain, quite smart enough to know that the suggestion voting Yes means you’re signing away your pension is nonsensical scaremongering. In voting to restore Scotland’s independence you are not signing away anything. Rather, you are reclaiming what is rightfully yours. You are stripping away from a corrupt and incompetent foreign government that you had no part in electing the power to threaten your pension as they are doing right now. You are bringing power back where it rightfully belongs – with the people of Scotland – in order to give democratically legitimate authority to a government answerable to you. A government that wouldn’t dare threaten your pension for fear of incurring the wrath of the people who elect it.

Most pensioners need no reassurance because we are old enough and sufficiently well-versed in the ways of the world to recognise an attempt to terrorise us into meek compliance when we encounter it. For most of us, this will not be a novel experience. More and more of us are prepared to take a stand against such strong-arm tactics. We are not stupid. We are not intimidated.



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23 thoughts on “Neither stupid nor timid

  1. So, why does this issue still seem to have legs? it should be a simple matter of the Scottish Government killing this dead now and for all time, but yet here we are.

    I would expect any transfer of money for pensions to be part of the divorce settlement and this is probably the real target of the fear-mongering – that negotiations would be rancorous or protracted and thus the seeds of doubt are sown.

    I wonder what the figure involved is? It can’t be that much in the grand scheme of things. Since UK pensions are amongst the lowest in Western Europe why doesn’t the SNP step in and commit, on independence to a top-up to the UK pension to redress the balance? Simplicity itself, which would turn a point of contention into several powerful positives.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The SNP+SGP/Scottish Government has committed to bringing pensions up to the level in other countries. Although nobody but a fool would expect this to happen over the short term. It would be a process extending over decades.

      The reason this keeps coming back is partly because it is such a fundamental issue; partly because the British suppose pensioners are more susceptible to propaganda; partly because the Brits have discovered that they can rely on a big part of the Yes movement help spreading to doubt and worry. Propagandists are predators. They go for the weak and vulnerable first. They know they don’t have to convince everyone. They only have to persuade a few – with threats and/or promises – in order to win.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Perhaps we should commission a study of Brits in Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal, etc., to see whether their pensions were cut off at the point they emigrated to those balmy shores? If not, it would be a gross breach of human rights to suggest that Scots’ pensions, uniquely, would be erased. Only the dimmest light bulbs fall for this s***e.

        By the way, have you heard that we are still in a very fragile state in Scotland with more Covid variants possible? I wonder just how long they think they can string this out? 2023? 2025? 2030? 2040? 2050? Variant ‘Wefooledya’ in 2060?

        Between them, the governments at Westminster and Holyrood show such a disconnect and level of contempt for the electorate that only Biden outdoes them now in contempt for the American public, which is saying something when you think of Trump.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make about Covid. Viruses are real. They mutate. Coronavirus is unusually susceptible to mutation. There SHALL be more variants. That is not supposition or speculation or propaganda. It is a fact as certain as the sunrise. One or more of those variants is likely to be deadly. We’d have to be incredibly fortunate to escape this. Especially as the precautions have never been adequate or maintained as long as necessary. We allow transmission to continue. Where there is transmission there is mutation. Where there is mutation there is the very real risk of a virus capable of wiping out civilisation. The properties of this killer virus already exist in coronavirus. All that is required is that these properties manifest in one of numerous combinations. There may be billions of benign combinations. But viruses get trillions of shot at hitting the killer combination.

          This is off-topic. But the point had to be made. Viruses are real. We have created global conditions which make pandemics inevitable. There will be more. Until we deploy the only means we have of stopping them – isolation – the threat will only grow.

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      2. Yes Peter, its real. O/T but pertinent: re pandemic management watch Netflix documentary Pandemic How to Prevent an Outbreak and imagine if MERS-coronavirus hadnt been contained so effectively. This series is excellent for its observations of human behaviour management in emergency situations
        https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81026143

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You are in the minority Pete – too many will swallow the lies, too many believe they have ‘paid in’. We should be winning on this given Westminster’s slow death to pensions. Our problem is that many of our political leaders can’t articulate a simple message: There is no pot of pension cash.

    That is all they need to say – repeatedly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They have “paid in”. They’ve paid into the only ‘pot’ there is – general taxation. That’s the ‘pot’ from which pensions are paid. They have effectively purchased entitlement to a pension. In return for people paying into the virtual ‘pot’ of general taxation the British government has issued a promise to pay a pension to the bearer of that entitlement. That is the whole story.

      I don’t expect the British to stop beating us with this stick. What I do expect – nay, demand! – is that independence supporters stop helping them

      Liked by 2 people

      1. They’ve “paid in” but nobody has articulated sufficiently clearly that it’s simply an IOU.

        It’s interesting that the recent propaganda also mentioned the UK’s AAA credit rating at the same time. Except it’s an outright lie. The UK’s current credit rating, by Fitch, is a mediocre AA-. Not quite the cast iron guarantee that pensions would be paid that people might expect. In fact, if things get steadily worse a cut in pensions might be on offer. An increase in the age for eligibility is definitely on the cards.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Things would have to be unimaginably bad for any government to cut pensions. Quite apart from the political consequences – probably foremost the the politicians’ minds – there would be a very significant impact. The same argument applies to welfare benefits. The non-working population has to be kept economically active. As the proportion of the non-working population increases, so does the economic importance of their purchasing power.

          What is not widely realised is that it is the poor who contribute most to the economy. In part because they ‘accept’ less in order that others can have more. In large part because their spending is almost entirely non-discretionary and internal. Which means it is highly predictable. What can’t be predicted can’t be managed. So if you are managing an economy within a capitalist system driven by inequity, inequality and insecurity, anything that is at all predictable if you are even to maintain a convincing pretence of being in control.

          Cutting pensions and welfare is an act of desperation. Or dumb incompetence.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Most who “think the thing through” – there’s the problem. Why take the time and effort to think things through when you are being offered an easier alternative to not think? Here’s a (no longer relevant) example: most consumers have never switched energy supplier regardless of the easy reward of thousands of pounds to spend on something else. There is little rationale for this except that people arent rational and are default resistant to change.

    Attempting to “reassure” after the idea has been resurrected will most certainly backfire, cause a proliferation of ‘headlines’ stating the same lies, and hence the doubters doubling down, ‘reassured’ they dodged a bullet in 2014. This is what I dont understand (or maybe I do) – its almost like the purveyors of these so-called pro-indy non-strategies want to lose……

    btw, the 75+ voted Yes in significantly greater proportion than the next age cohort

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thinking is a learned skill. At least, what I mean when I refer to thinking is. It is very evidently a skill which isn’t being adequately learned. Or properly taught? Which is surprising, really. Because it’s not that difficult. Although it is effortful. More effortful than just believing, anyway. Skilled thinking is nothing more than asking questions. Preferably, the most probing question designed to elicit the most revealing or informative answers. So you ask all the questions you can come up with just to be sure you get the right ones. You’ll know them when you ask them. Or when you try to answer them.

      Having asked the good questions and got the good answers, question those answers again. It never ends. You just pick a point at which to stop for the time being. As you suggest, most folk seem to stop before I’d even consider them to have started. Intellectual indolence as rife. Intellectual rigour is rare. There is a lot of wasted brain-power out there.

      I have to stress that I do not consider myself to be extraordinarily intelligent. That’s the whole point. You don’t have to be a genius to think well. You don’t have to be a Mensa candidate to explore a topic and interrogate ideas. Anybody can ask questions. Too few do.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Agreed, we do need to think and learn, especially in relation to pre-empting/reacting to unionist propaganda.

        In fact, its decisions which we arrive at quickly and instinctively which most often turn out to be the best choice.* For example, my decision to vote Yes didnt require any deliberation at all. My instinct told me it was the right thing to do. Most of us felt the same.

        Since then, provoked by incredulity at the outcome, I’ve done a massive amount of thinking and questioning, with the aim of less credulity and more insight.

        Research since suggests feeling primarily Scottish is the most important factor, so it should/could have been 75% Yes. It was the Yes campaign responding to the dog whistles from BT, giving them credulity and adding fuel to the mass outbreak of over-thinking and breakdown of self-belief that lead to No.

        ( * there is research to evidence that this is the case, sorry, I dont have references at my fingertips)

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I voted Yes having spent more than 50 years thinking about it. Right up to the last minute I was prepared to question that choice had anyone offered me a sound reason for doing so.

          But you’re right. Sometimes the answer is so obvious it doesn’t seem that it requires any thought at all. Independence should be like that. British propaganda succeeds by making us doubt ourselves.

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  4. Presumably, the Scottish government would be borrowing in sterling to pay state pensions, with no monetary control, and probably at a higher interest rate, as per what I asume is still the SNP’s monetary policy. Therein lies the rub.

    In order to reduce interest rate on borrowings, the government would probably have to go for full-on austerity, as per what I asume is still the SNP’s monetary policy. Therein lies another rub. Seeing as they pay to get monetary policy written for them by someone paid as a corperate lobbyist for RBS and ignore the opinion of their membership, that seems to be the only realistic choice presented by the powers that be and will continue to be, it doesn’t look at all appealing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As ever, you assume the people of Scotland to be so stupid as to elect to government people who are even more stupid than themselves. We are accustomed to such contempt from British Nationalists.

      There is only one ‘economic question’ that is worth asking or trying to answer. Do you have confidence in the people of Scotland to take responsibility for the management of Scotland’s economy? If you answer Yes, then it is self-contradictory to oppose the restoration of Scotland rightful constitutional status. If you answer in the negative then you have a LOT of explaining to do.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. The Sterling boat has long sailed away!
      Scotland will have its own Currency, and its own Central Bank. The UK Govt. has made sure of that.
      When it was mooted a short while back, Scotland would not be in any Currency Union with UK, we had former Governors of Bank of England telling us, we needed Scotland within such a Currency Union, and pro 1707 politicians say we couldn’t go it alone, and likewise, would have to be in monetary Union with Sterling!
      Strange that, ain’t it???
      And this time they were not claiming we would be “too wee, too poor”, but rather the thought of UK minus Scotland was what they were more concerned about. In other words, UK Treasury needs Scotland!

      As to pensions, alas, we have had a week of stories from The Glasgow Herald, going mega big with the old scare stories, and its Forum pages taken up, and taken over by the pro London lot.
      And as if last week wasn’t enough for them, there are at it again today, with this one, and the tory MP Opperman.

      “SNP leadership accused of ‘misleading Scots’ over pensions and independence”

      The thing is getting quite ridiculous!
      No one has ever said the rest of UK, or what will be left of it, will pay Scottish pensions.
      What has been said is that existing pensions, that is, those who paid into the UK system over the years, will continue to get those pensions, just as they do for those in Spain, France, etc.
      So for MP Opperman and others to claim anyone for independence is saying “England” would be expected to pay Scottish pensions, is barefaced lies.
      Unfortunately, as we see in the discussion pages of Glasgow Herald, there is more than enough folks here, who want to believe this mush.
      One would have thought The National would have a better approach.

      Tho I would also say, SNP really does need to respond to these scares stories a lot more robustly, than it seems to be doing at present.
      But it is also the case, it would matter little what SNP says, it will never ever be enough for the die hard, or simple minded pro London lot!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, Peter, I know that viruses are real. I also know that one could wipe us out, or wipe out most of us. Sorry, if it’s off-topic, but I thought the article was about thinking and non-thinking. Every virus has variants. We did not postpone independence indefinitely for variants of other viruses. Isolation is not conducive to being able to do what is necessary to achieve independence – on the social level – albeit it is necessary, up to a point, to break the transmission of the virus. My point, becoming very laboured now, is that this could go on indefinitely until independence becomes impossible – unless we do it all over some form of electronic/digital communication – and, just as we think we are over the worst and can start to think about independence seriously, as a real possibility again, a socially-possible thing, we are told, by Mr Yousaf, to start thinking about the possibilities of more variants. The Scottish government advising us to think. Which makes you think. A bit like thinking that, uniquely, Scotland is the only place on the planet where you can live and have your pension cut off by the Whitehall mandarins and Westminster politicians. Who quite often appear to think, like their counterparts at Holyrood, that the hoi polloi do not think.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Forgive my naivety. If the National Insurance contributions have not been put in a fund or invested, even a percentage of them. Then surely the UK needs to explain to workers and pensioners , why this is not the case. Could a newly independent Scotland claim the lost billions from the UK when negotiating settlement?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Forgive my naivety”? Well, Peter, who isn’t nieve in life? (our mothers were successful Santa’s, after all!).

    The Unbelievable Kindom is UNSUCCESSFUL! Our independent Scotland WILL have the support and legality of being a nation that has REGAINED its independence and international rights!

    Like

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