Category Archives: Edinburgh & Lothians

A People’s Constitution

Julia Laurie, co-convenor of Pensioners for Independence Edinburgh and Lothians, writes:

The following recording is from our meeting held on Tuesday the 28th July. Some time ago, the Greater Glasgow P4Indy invited me to one of their meetings when Bob Ingram of A Constitution for Scotland was speaking. I found it wonderful listening to Bob, and my reaction was almost visceral.

I have read some of the Draft Constitution written by Professor Mark McNaught, of the University of Rennes. It is very good. But it was not until I heard Bob speaking that I realised how important it is that a Scottish Constitution should be written by the people for the people.

I contacted Bob, and was delighted when he agreed to talk to our group, the following recording is the outcome. Before listening, I urge you to read the Constitution Summary.

Bob Ingram speaking to Edinburgh & Lothians P4Indy on 28July 2020

I really hope you have enjoyed Bob’s talk as much as I did. I have now heard it 3 times, and it affects me the same way every time. As you will have heard Bob say, they started with 22 people 11 years ago, and now they are ready to launch their Constitution.

Have a look at their web site Constitution for Scotland . If you can donate, no matter how small the amount, it will enable them to launch the Constitution. As a well-known supermarket says “every little helps” or as we might prefer to say “Mony a Mickle Maks a Muckle”.

I believe this constitution is vitally important, please spread knowledge of its existence to all your friends, colleagues, and any other groups you are part of, and remember political parties come and go, but a country’s constitution is forever.

Economics & Currency in a New Scotland

This month’s meeting of Edinburgh & Lothians Group featured Andy Anderson. It was after the 2014 Referendum that Andy decided to do something about getting the message over to Scots about how we could create the kind of economy that would best support our nation and how we can set up our own currency. He has been writing, speaking and running study groups on those topics ever since.

Andy was born in the Glasgow ‘Toon Heid’ district, and at the age of 15 took up employment at the Blainhall Colliery in Fife. He was later a piper in the Cameron Highlanders.. Then as an elected official of the Miner’s Union the NUM. He received a scholarship from the Union to study at Ruskin College in Oxford, and later won a state scholarship to New College Oxford from which he graduated with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

Andy worked for the National Union of Public Employees for 20 yrs, then retired to Skye, where he became involved in the Skye Bridge Anti-Tolls Campaign – ending in prison. Although to date he has never paid the toll or any fines! 

He is the author of ‘The Skye Bridge Story‘, ‘Currency in an Independent Scotland‘ and co-author of ‘Moving On: An economic case for Scottish Independence‘.

You can listen to the talk and the discussion afterwards here:

In his talk, Andy covered two main topics:

Money

  • Money is not important. It’s wealth that is important and Scotland is a very wealthy country.  First of all we need the political power to run our own country and then we need our own currency. 
  • Can we do that? Well, Iceland has with a population the size of Edinburgh with fewer resources

Scotland’s Wealth

  • How do we get the wealth of our nation into our pockets here in Scotland?
  • We have all this wealth and yet it doesn’t seem to be available to us to create the society we want?
  • How do we move from where we are and get to the kind of society we want?
  • There are examples of how to do this…. eg UK at end of WW2 we were very badly off and yet we created wealth in the years after that in a very short period of time. We applied Keynesian economics. In fact Keynes was advising the Labour Gov post war. It was done then and it can be done again.

The questions that Andy was asked after his talk covered a wide range :

  • Is it only a sovereign state that can set up a central bank
  • Are SNP setting things up in the way the Scottish people want? eg with the Growth Commission ? Are they not packing their advisory groups with neo-Liberals?
  • Taxation after independence
  • Devolved  Powers  will never let us run our own economy in the ways we want.
  • International Credit Rating for an independent Scotland
  • What should we do first after independence? First, we have to have political independence. We may have different views on how to proceed with currency but that’s not a problem. We all want independence. So we work together for independence and after that we can debate the best way forward. 
  • Public and private ownership
  • How quickly can we set up our own currency?
  • Do we need a lender of last resort?
  • Is it politicians we need to get this message over to and educate them about currency?
  • Do you think SNP & First Minister still want independence?
  • The UKGov and media will tell us we can’t afford to go it alone. We need to be ready to refute that.

Our Article In the National

The article was published in the National on 28 May. We were asked to contribute to the series which they are running just now highlighting the groups who have received grants from the Scottish Independence Foundation.

Here’s the text of the article which was written by Alan Logue co-Convenor of our National Group.

Our age group had the highest proportion of those who rejected constitutional change in 2014. We reformed Pensioners for Independence in early 2017 because we considered that a group run by pensioners was better placed to put our message across, raise the issues that most concern us – especially those that failed to convince us to vote Yes in 2014 – and convince our peers of the benefits of constitutional change.

Edinburgh was the first group to be convened and after some months Greater Glasgow followed and some activities started in Aberdeen and Perth. Street stalls were run, speakers were arranged and local meetings held.

 We were keen to spread out to other areas, so very soon a National Committee was created to focus on moving the organisation forward. Each local group sends representatives to this national coordinating group. Our website is set up so each group has their own page for their local news. We also set up central purchasing for materials that everyone can use. In March 2018 we had our first Inaugural General Meeting as a constituted national organisation

Our next step was to help build, coordinate and support more local groups. In early 2019 we approached the Scottish Independence Foundation and applied for funding detailing what we required and what we believed we could achieve with their support. The application was successful!. Thank you, SIF!

By this time we had a sizeable number on our website mailing list. Using that data to encourage clusters to start local groups, we liaised with those interested and organised local meetings to explain our objectives and what we could offer in the form of resources and initial funding to establish a group. As a result groups have formed in Ayr, Selkirk, Perth and Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire has held a first meeting to gauge interest and there is a very active group in Dumfries & Galloway  which runs separate from our network.

 We have also set up our own leaflet creation team for information on topics more closely related to our peer group, these are all on our website in pdf format for downloading, and encouragingly, our leaflets are now being requested by other Yes groups through our bulk purchasing arrangement.

 As well as raising our profile in all the usual ways – stalls at rallies, street stalls, meetings, leafleting, attending and contributing to conferences and seminars- we have also set up an entertainment group,The Warblers, who take their concerts into sheltered housing, lunch clubs and local community centres. Two of our members in Glasgow were invited as guests on IndyLive Radio and were so good they are now co-presenters on the IndyLive Radio Team. And to further our influence, and as a constituted organisation, we have a representative on the Scottish Independence Convention. All this activity means we are increasingly well-placed to communicate our vision for an independent Scotland to those pensioners not yet convinced. 

Our next step is to get involved with groups of the younger generation to exchange information that would be useful to both age groups in convincing each other of the positive benefits of constitutional change. Independence will be our generation’s present to their generation’s future.

At the moment, of course, active campaigning is being severely restricted. Video conferencing is now the method for meetings and discussions. As the current situation progresses we will have to rethink our campaigning methods. We will be more reliant on one to one conversations or in small gatherings as larger groups will likely be shunned. 

But using our extensive mailing list, we have recently completed an exercise in sending leaflets out to those willing to distribute them in their own community.  We need to build on this and encourage others to be more active in spreading the word. Using advertising / posters aimed at our peer group in the areas that would be most frequented might be another way to get our message across. As with other Yes groups, how we go about campaigning will be down to local conditions after the lockdown eases. 

As our age cohort contains the highest proportion of those vulnerable to Covid19, we may be the last to emerge from this lockdown, and probably our anxiety about Covid19 will linger until there is a vaccine. Our Warbler’s visits to care homes etc. will very likely be restricted, our age group being the least users of social media, we have our work cut out –  ideas on a postcard please. 

Alan Logue, Co-convener National Pensioners for Independence

If you are interested in helping us, contact :-

  • info@pensionersforindependence.scot
  • Twitter: @Pensioners4Indy
  • Facebook: Pensioners for Independence National Hub
  • or write to the National and they will pass your message on

And once again, thank you, Scottish Independence Foundation for all the help you are giving to the independence campaign.

Edinburgh & Lothians P4Indy folk out on the street today!

Hope it wasn’t too chilly over in the Capital. Nice for Joanna Cherry to stop for a chat. She’s coming to our AGM on 16th March. Here are the banners they had on show today:

And if you’d like to see state pension figures on a graph, here they are the equivalent figures (source) shown as percentage of average wage. The red bar is the average EU state pension which replaces half the average EU wage. UK is 7th from the right and replaces only 30% of UK average wage.

EU pension comparison chart
State pensions compared: Proportion of average salary ‘replaced’ by the state in retirement

You can find more information about pensions under the Resources tab at the top of this page.