Fortunately for us, some of the Clacks Women for Indy recorded the Q&A with Alyn Smith at the inaugural meeting of Stirling & Clacks P4Indy last Sunday. Alyn is the prospective SNP candidate for Stirling in the general election next month and he dropped into the meeting to offer us his encouragement and express how pleased he is that P4Indy is becoming active locally.
On Sunday 10 Nov around 25 people assembled in the Dunblane Centre to discuss setting up a local Pensioners for Indy group. Some of us who are engaged in the Greater Glasgow and Edinburgh & Lothians groups went along too. Our National Coordinating group can support new groups starting up with campaigning advice – if needed – and we can also give some financial support using funding which we have from the Scottish Independence Foundation. We even resided our National Convenor to model our T-shirt!
On Saturday 20,000 people (according to the organisers) or 10,000 people (according to the police) squeezed themselves into Glasgow’s George Square to listen to an array of speakers on the theme of Scottish Independence.
As is usual it was all videoed by the IndependenceLiveStreaming team and if you missed it, or couldn’t hear it, you can listen again now.
It was quite a line-up:
To help you find each of the speakers here are the timings in the video:
@ 18mins: Mhairi Black MP
@ 34mins: Maggie Chapman, Convenor of Scottish Independence Convention
@ 44mins: Valentina Servera Clavell from Catalonia
@ 1h 6mins: Patrick Harvie MSP, Scottish Greens
@ 1h 16mins: Paul Kavanagh of Wee Ginger Dug
@ 1h 26mins: Suzanne McLaughlin, Women for Independence
@ 1h 34mins: Janey Godley, Isa MacNamee and a’ the Sandras
@ 1h 42mins: Mike Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business & Constitutional Relations
@ 1h 51mins: Humza Yusaf MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice,
@ 2h Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland
And look – Glasgow Pensioners for Indy were there too!
Recently we’e been in contact with some of the folk who run the Brechin Yes Hub.
Here’s what they said:
The Brechin Hub, the aptly named Blether-In, was opened roughly two years ago in premises we rent in the centre of the town. The membership fund its operation by some monthly direct debit payments and some annual donations. Our finances are healthy.
It is staffed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday where we get a steady drop in off the street from people who want to know more about the Indy movement. We get the odd Unionist too from time to time and enjoy trying to persuade each other!
We sell a wide range of Indy and Scottish literature and goods and we are regularly involved in Flag days on the A90 and leafleting and canvassing in the Brechin area. There’s tele in the window, switched on every day from 9am until 8pm showing everything we think is topical and humourous. A lot of passer-byes stop to watch and some come in.
Roughly speaking our Hub team are 75% SNP members and 25% Independendistas and we work well together. Though maybe of real interest to the Indy Pensioners Movement is that all the staffing is done by pensioners. Our Tele and Internet guru is a pensioner and when the phony war ends the real hard-nosed, knowledgeable and committed door knocking brigade are all of our vintage too.
Of late we feel Indy movement has spent a lot of time talking to itself. We have decided that to win next year we must get the pensioner percentages up to at least the low 30%. Do that throughout Scotland and we are there.
Here at Pensioners for Indy, we completely agree : swing the pensioner vote a bit further over to Yes – 40% ? – and we’re there. We hope our new leaflets will be appearing up in Brechin soon. And here is the Brechin Yes Team’s own leaflet If you live up that way, it might already have dropped your letterbox.
By coincidence, in the same week as we have been promoting our new leaflet on Pensions, a motion was passed at the SNP Conference calling for an increase of State Pension in an Independent Scotland to the same level as the OECD average and supporting the commissioning of a Scottish State Pension Plan. The data referred to in the motion echoes much of the information on our leaflet.
You can download a PDF file with all our data on State Pensions and how ours compares to other developed countries: Pension Data
Or for a quick idea of how another small country much the same size as Scotland is doing with their State Pension, this will give you the general idea:
Now I bet most of us would be pleased if our State Pension was the same as Ireland’s. But Ireland’s State pension itself is still below the average for EU countries. Here’s how UK, Ireland compares with average State Pensions:
The UK pension is 29% of average pre-retirement earnings. We’ve used the data for men only as the current changes to women’s retirement age makes their data more complex. Ireland’s pensions is 42% of pre-retirement earnings. But the average EU Pensions is 71%. In other words EU average pension is almost two and a half times ours, in terms of pre-retirement earnings. If you use £145 as UK Pension, ie somewhere between £125 and £163, then we’d be receiving £355 a week.
Is this going to be possible in a newly independent Scotland? Well, certainly not immediately, but at least we’d have a Parliament at Holyrood who’d likely be trying to get us up to that level. SNP would be trying to do that and it’s not a stretch to surmise that the Scottish Greens, Labour and maybe LibDems would also support it. And that would be much better than what we have at the moment : State Pensions are not devolved to Holyrood but are instead in the hands of Westminster and whoever the English electorate votes into power. A Scottish State Pension Plan is the first step. Oh, wait, the first step is an independent Scotland.