Dr Philippa Whitford : Brexit & the NHS

Philippa Whitford became MP for Central Ayrshire in 2015. She is the SNP spokesperson for Health at Westminster. If you ever watched her quizzing Jeremy Hunt when he was Secretary of State for Health, you’ll have enjoyed her grasp of detail, persistence and dry humour and the obvious discomfiture of Mr Hunt when faced with someone who knew more about the NHS than he did. Before her entry into politics Philippa was a consultant breast cancer surgeon working in Ayrshire.

She has given this talk in many places around the country. It’s well worth watching.

Thoughts about a Scottish Constitution

Glasgow P4Indy group invited John Drummond to their August meeting today to talk about a Scottish Constitution. John, along with Canon Kenyon Wright, was one of the founders of the Constitutional Commission, back in 2005. And on the Commission’s website you find these three principles underpinning how they have tried to progress the idea of a written constitution for Scotland:

  • The work of the Constitutional Commission starts from three axioms. Firstly, that legitimate sovereignty in Scotland resides in the “whole community of the realm”, and not in the Queen-in-Parliament at Westminster.
  • Secondly, that a written and entrenched Constitution, endorsed by the whole community, guaranteeing the rights of citizens, and delimiting the powers, duties and responsibilities of the institutions of State, is necessary in order to establish the right relationship between the State and the people in a liberal democracy. 
  • Thirdly, that liberal democracy cannot exist merely in procedural terms, but must be sustained by civic, humane and democratic values.
  • you can find out more here: Constitutional Commission John is currently giving this talk to Indy supporting groups all over Scotland so if you’re interested, contact him via this website.

The video below is John giving the talk a few months back. It’s approximately what he said in Glasgow today. But because since this version from March 2019, the UK is in the grip of a constitutional crisis, we heard a lot more about the current attempts by Boris Johnson to prorogue Parliament and what that could presage for the Scottish independence movement.

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State Pensions in the News ….

Reproduced with permission from @WeegieFifer

1. State Pension: International Comparisons

There have been several news items about UK State Pension this week. The House of Commons library produced a briefing about country-by-country comparisons of state pensions back in May. Don’t remember it being much in the news in May but the National have reported on it this week.

Different countries have different systems for their state pension both in terms of how they collect pension contributions and how people are eligible for them. The Commons Briefing reckons that the two countries most similar to UK’s system and therefore the best comparisons are Eire and the Netherlands. Here’s what the weekly pensions on UK, Eire and Netherlands look like, using today’s £/€ exchange rate of 0.91. There are two UK levels of state pensions depending on when you reached pension age before or after 6 April 2016.

2. Raising Pensions Age to 75?

The UK State Pension Age (SPA) is due to rise to 66 next year. But reports appeared in the press this week about a proposal to raise the SPA to 75. (Guardian, Daily Mail ) 75? Can this really be true? It is true that the conservative think-tank Centre for Social Justice, which first proposed Universal Credit and is chaired by Ian Duncan Smith MP, have published a report in which they propose raising the SPA to 70 by 2028 and to 75 by 2038. Here’s their recommendation:

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Selkirk & District Group Are Up and Running!

And we’re off – Pensioners for Independence has a new group! We’re mostly based in or around Selkirk. So although anyone sharing our TD postcode is welcome to join, we’ve called ourselves ‘Selkirk and District’ rather than ‘Borders’ because folk in other Borders towns might want to set up their own group. We’re now up to 29 members, which is encouraging.

The June 1st AUOB march in Galashiels was a great start, and the first outing for our new banner (thank you Dumfries &Galloway – we liked yours so much, we used the same design!) Such a positive, friendly, inclusive atmosphere. It felt good to be among like-minded people of all ages, and to make links with our P4Indy neighbours – and buy some delicious cake from the P4Indy stall. It was very heartening to see support from local shopkeepers and bystanders – it’s starting to look like the tide is turning.

Future plans include a regular stall alongside the monthly Farmer’s Market, and inviting speakers. Some of us are looking forward to taking part in a Reframing workshop.