Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Scottish independence: there is a massive financial black hole as the "pensions time-bomb" ticks down in Scotland, the only way to defuse the bomb is to Vote to stay with the UK, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon’s incompetence completely ruined the indy campaign, trust, trust is the issue!

Dear All

Harold Wilson once famously said in politics:

“this won’t affect the pound in your pocket”.

This was in relation to when the pound was devalued in 1967 by Harold Wilson and his Chancellor James Callaghan.

Fast forward to 2013, the SNP are saying that they use "the wealth of Scotland" to fund its pension commitments if it becomes independent.

So, if Finance Secretary John Swinney is going to be trying to plug the financial black hole that is pensions, what does that mean regards to the Oil Fund?

I would suggest it means that it would be decades before any money would be available from that Fund to boost services.

We are now finding out the further we get into this campaign that because nothing has been done by the SNP we are staring a black hole in the face, the prospect of higher taxes and massive cuts to services.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon haven’t done the work; the independence bid is little more than a badly botched fraud.

Better Together, the pro UK campaign has been quick to seize on the "pensions time-bomb", because this issue like many connect to finance has real traction with people.

The Elderly can’t get their pensions, we would we see Scotland descend into the position of Greece?

Greece is in terrible trouble, and the people have seen their country asset stripped and austerity which is totally unacceptable.

Scotland in the second term of this parliament should have been about Government and Local Government Reform, the opportunity was there and it was missed.

Better Together have also challenged John Swinney to explain how he will fund pensions in a country where the number of elderly people is rising faster than the UK, so far given the current state of government he could provide a credible answer.

But presumably there will be rhetoric of everything will be taken care of, just wait and see, well ordinary working class Scots people can’t take that gamble, many of whom are living week to week financially.

And if independence happens there will be consequences, EU cross-border pensions regulations could also force UK pension providers to eliminate their funding shortfalls immediately.

Chaos on both sides of the border!

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland consultant David Davison is reported in the press as saying "charities will potentially have to close" if they are forced to eliminate their pension deficits immediately after independence to meet EU rules.

As I said many, many times in the past on this blog, there had to be a rolling blue print of how an independent Scotland would look, the plan would have to deal with matters like these.

The Scottish National Party has done nothing!

In a spirit of blaming England, John Swinney said:

"The pensions issues that the country faces today have not been created by independence, they have been created by the Union. Most of the problems in occupational pension schemes have been created by the £500 million per annum raid on pension funds that was put in place by Gordon Brown, so it really is the ultimate in hypocrisy for Labour and the No campaign to raise any issues about pensions given that the UK Government have made an absolute mess of pensions in this country and presided over the creation of pensions deficits. Now clearly the Scottish Government is determined to put in place arrangements to ensure that pensions are properly and fully funded. That is our commitment and our priority, and the approach that we will take towards negotiations with the UK Government will be designed to ensure that we take that forward as part of the independence negotiations."

Blame England, where is the positive in this?

Yes, there are problems, however leaving everything up in the air and then concoct a ‘story’ to feed to the people is equally dishonest politics.

Labour Sahadown Pensions Minister Gregg McClymont said:

"In his wilful refusal to face reality on the pensions issue, John Swinney increasingly resembles a flat-earther. The fact is that these defined benefit pension schemes with tens of thousands of Scots members would be thrown into turmoil overnight by separation. Charities across the UK are facing difficult challenges and will be hugely concerned to learn that if the SNP gets their way, the funding shortfall in their pension schemes would, by EU law, have to be filled overnight."

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

"The lack of answers from the SNP over cross-border pension schemes in an independent Scotland could mean that charities have to dip into their resources to close holes in funding sooner rather than later. This highlights the real consequences the SNP's plans to break Scotland away from the UK could have for pensions."

Like so many issues the SNP are just making policy up as they go along, long term planning needs long term thinking, and that isn’t a hallmark of the SNP under Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

Finally, last night I was a member of the Newsnight Scotland debate audience on independence and the Monarchy, interestingly the SNP put up MSP Christine Grahame who is anti Monarchy. 

You would have thought given the SNP position is supposed to be pro Monarchy, they would have put up a strong voice in support of the Royal Family; they didn’t. 

As we have seen the Yes Scotland Campaign is filled with many groups who wish to see a republic in Scotland, I don’t sense the SNP is genuine about having the Queen has Head of State, although the SNP are more devious than clever, they must have known what message having Christine Grahame sitting there sends out.

There is an issue of trust surrounding Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, whether it is pensions or the Royal Family.

So far, the Scottish National Party can’t be trusted with either, questions have been asked and no answers that make sense are coming back.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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