Pensions In An Independent Scotland: A Waste Of White Paper.

I have just read through the Scottish Government’s white paper entitled “Pensions in an independent Scotland – September 2013”.

If you’re too busy to read it for yourself I can summarise it’s contents as: “don’t worry, we’re going to keep everything the same as it is in the rest of the UK with the exception of a few tweaks here and there that will make useful campaigning slogans.”

The paper acknowledges that we have an ageing population, which means that state pensions will put an increasing strain on the productive economy, but offers no concrete ideas for solving this problem apart from advocating a looser immigration policy. The strategy appears to hinge on the hope that immigrants will come and look after us in our old age.

There is, of course, the usual political rhetoric about using the levers of power to increase productivity and participation (i.e. getting more people to do more work) to stimulate economic growth, which will pay for our pensions, but nothing specific, nothing to explain what these levers are and the mechanisms that will magically release the economic potential of the ageing population.

When you realise that the white paper is offering nothing that’s noticeably different to what’s going to happen in the UK you wonder where the “Better Together” campaign gets the brass neck to ask, as it does in this article, “Are our pensions safe with independence?” 

Back at you, unionists: “Are our pensions safe with the UK?”

The stark truth is that our pensions aren’t safe whichever way we vote next September because neither side has a clue how to deal with the ever-increasing cost of making sure that our old folk are properly funded and cared for.

The universal basic income that I argue for in my book is one way of making sure that everyone is able to pay for their basic needs, and I’m sure there are other people with good ideas that could be brought forward for debate but no, we get the same old waffle from both sides of the independence fence. Another opportunity wasted.

4 thoughts on “Pensions In An Independent Scotland: A Waste Of White Paper.

  1. The Yes campaign have a big enough hill to climb without allowing our opponents to paint us into a corner over pensions. Yes you are right, pensions are not safe in the current climate to put it mildly, anywhere in Europe. Saying so is not going to get us independence. The reason why we are projected to keep the Queen, the pound and so on, is that too much change at once is unsettling. If an independent Scotland wants to change these things later that’s fine.

    I suspect your ideas on money are good (the book is on order) but which entity, a post-No UK or a newly independent Scotland, is more likely to listen sympathetically to your ideas?

    • At the moment, apart from the idea of independence, there’s very little to distinguish yes from no. Most of us aren’t that bothered about independence itself but we’re mightily frustrated with lots of other things political and economic.

      I agree that it would be silly to try to change lots of things at once but the Yes campaign would benefit hugely if it looked beyond the narrow terms of reference of UK politics, acknowledged some of the big problems facing the UK and promoted the idea of exploring ideas to solve them in an indy Scotland.

      I don’t yet share your belief that change will be easier in an indy Scotland. I would like to see those in positions of power/influence being explicit in their desire/encouragement for finding better ways of doing things.

      I don’t expect them to tell us the answers (or adopt anyone’s ideas) but I do expect them to recognise and publicise the big questions and encourage debate on them so that plausible solutions can evolve over the next few years.

      How can we make democracy work better; how can we fix our financial system (including pensions); how can we solve the energy conundrum? The no lot don’t have a scooby what to do about these and don’t want to have to debate them.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Nice informative post. Excuse my ignorance, are you pro-independence or anti-independence? I hope Scotland votes for independence, I feel like all people should have the right to govern themselves. Once again, excuse me if I come across insensitive, american media doesn;t cover this topic at all.

  3. @Veage: Independence, just for the sake of it, feels like a distraction. For me the big issues are dysfunctional democratic and financial systems which won’t be fixed by moving part of our government from London to Edinburgh.

    There is an argument that the upheaval of independence could be our best opportunity to start meaningful reforms, which is attractive. But without some well-developed vision of what we need to do coming into the mainstream I fear that independence will be a colossal waste of time and energy. We could spend years disentangling our bureaucratic ties with the rest of the UK, at great expense, and end up no further forward.

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