To everyone over 50 who voted NO in 2014
I don’t know why you (the person reading this) voted NO but all the analysis done after the Referendum indicates that, collectively, most people in your age group voted NO. I am in the same age bracket and voted for Independence. I hope you will listen to someone closer to your own age.
I understand a lot of your fears and reasons: I fight against them daily. I try to use my intelligence the cynicism built up after lifetime of being lied to and deceived by politicians and businesses. I analyse the language they use and look at what they don’t say and how they say it. I don’t trust any politicians, but distrust come less than others. In most cases when I hear a politician make a public statement I know that it is untrue without further investigation. In a few rare cases I know that what they say needs checking rather than dismissal. And I know how people can believe what some plausible person on the television says even when a couple of minutes down the library would show they were either lying or wrong. And I know how anything becomes true if repeated often enough and loudly enough. As I said, I have an advantage over you having been scammed by politicians and businesses and lied to by the media far too often.
Perhaps you voted NO because....
I guess you had some youngster, a charming young person of whatever gender you prefer, came to you fresh from telling a Pole that they would be deported the day after a YES vote and told you you would lose your pension the day after a YES vote. And you believed them because the BBC and the Scotsman and the Herald and other papers never told you that after Independence the Remaining UK government would be obliged to keep paying your pension ( just about the lowest in Europe). And they did not tell you the Scottish government had calculated they could and would pay you nearly £20 a week more. Despite a lifetime’s experience of politicians and what their promises were worth you believed them. You believed that handsome young Alasdair Darling and forgot how Gordon Brown had stolen over a hundred billion pounds from UK pensioners.
Perhaps you voted NO because you did not want change. You forgot that everything changes. Many of you are only alive now because of changes in society, in healthcare and other areas. You forgot that being willing to embrace change (or at least examining it to see if it is worth embracing) helps you stay young mentally and physically. You forgot that change would come no matter how you voted.
Tories against Pensions
In 2014 the Anti-Independence grand coalition of Tory and Labour, which has continued ever since, promised that pensions would only be safe with a NO vote. The Tories expected to lose the 2015 general election and did nothing about pensions. When they unexpectedly won a slender majority in Westminster they decided, as revealed by a Tory think tank, that most of the staunch old Tory voters would be dead by the next election, or would be so raddled by dementia that they could be persuaded pension cuts had been made by Labour. And they decided to abandon one of their major constituencies since the grim reaper was making it smaller and smaller with time. They calculated they would get more voters from the group of thirty year olds who consider anyone over forty as a candidate for involuntary euthanasia than they would lose because of the attrition caused by age and Alzheimer’s and they could proceed one funeral at a time.
After 2015 we started to see a slow campaign agains pensioners floated by Tory insiders who could be plausibly passed off as fringe eccentrics if there was a backlash. The plausible denial seems to have started in february 2016 when a former civil service mandarin who had taken early retirement revived a notion from 2012 that pensioners should have their pension docked if they did not do some form of community service. This seems to be the earliest attempt to reframe pensions as a benefit. To quote Lord Bichard from the Daily Express
"Older people who are not very old could be making a very useful contribution to civil society if they were given some incentive or recognition for doing so.
“We’re prepared to say to people if you’re not looking for work, you don’t get a benefit. If you’re old and you’re not contributing in some way, maybe there should be some penalty attached to that. These debates never seem to take place."
and he added
"Are we using all the incentives at our disposal to encourage older people not just to be a negative burden on the state but actually be a positive part of society?"
This was followed by a Think Tank suggesting the abolition of the state pension on the grounds that people should keep working unless they can find a period of idleness. And the whispering campaign continued with the government talking about reducing pensioner benefits.
Chancellor Phillip Hammond has said that he cannot guarantee the triple lock on pensions (the maximum of 2.5%, increases in wages, or inflation) after 2020. This means you face seeing your pension decay into peanuts as Brexit and Inflation together hit the economy. There are also muttering about cutting “Pensioner Benefits” including free public transport and help with fuel bills in winter.
Now there is a proposal to scrap the state pension from 2020, and means test recipients. The reasoning is that as the poorest get least value from it, because they do not live as long, it should be abolished to restore “fairness”. I must confess I fail to understand this reasoning, which seems to have been inspired by several bottles of 25 year old single malts
In July 2016 Theresa May denied there were plans to slash state pensions for millions of elderly people by scrapping the triple lock on pensions. This is of course the surest indication that it will happen.
By voting NO in order to save your pension you have endangered it. In 2014 it was perhaps just sensible to allow Unionist politicians the benefit of the doubt. But surely not now. The evidence is mounting that the Tories want to scrap the pension, and as many pensioners as possible before 2020 when it is likely they will lose power or at least an absolute majority. And whatever happens anyone over 50 is likely to have to work till 70. Tough luck if you are a labourer.
You better decide which side you're on
You may prefer to die of poverty rather than vote for an independent Scotland. That is your right and should be respected. But it looks like your children and grandchildren will be suffering too if you vote NO in the increasingly likely second independence referendum.
The nasty things the Better Together predicted as a result of a YES vote in 2014 have largely come true with a NO vote. How many more do you want?