Going by Scotsman leaders, letters and reports, pensions are a favourite ploy with which to frighten folk from voting Yes for independence. The message is: “Destitution awaits us.”
Never mind that the recurring message from Westminster governments is always about belt-tightening, ie for everyone but bankers and MPs. Austerity has been the watchword of nearly every London government in living memory, whether Labour, Tory, or the mix we have now.
We should worry about forecasts of destitution – we’ve lived our entire lives with the threat of it. Our history teems with it.
In this commemorative year of the First World War so many of us have ancestors whose impoverished lives in underpaid farm work, unregulated factory toil, subsistence fishing, etc, persuaded them to exchange domestic humdrum for the fighting mud fields of Europe, where they perished in disproportionate numbers.
Another popular ploy is that independence has nothing to do with the SNP. It has everything to do with the SNP. Promises of home rule by Liberals and Labourites became as meaningless as Lord Haig’s First World War posters. There were no posters welcoming those who survived Flanders with home rule pledges or even a morsel of prosperity. Instead, austerity all over again.
Had we depended on parties other than the SNP to deliver not merely a promise, but the actuality of self-government, we’d be waiting ad infinitum.
I was disappointed by the comments attributed to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland about pensions and independence (your report, 28 March). Anyone with basic actuarial knowledge would understand that pensions deficits represent ongoing liabilities whether they are categorised as cross-border schemes or not.
The only difference is in the timing of when companies might have to make good these deficits. For me it is misguided to say the sums required would be “sucked out of the corporate sector into pension schemes”. Companies will have to stump up this money at some point.
A small number of companies may struggle to make up any shortfall in a short period of time. But some may struggle to make up the deficits if they are allowed longer in which to do so, especially if their finances deteriorate further. Companies may squeal, but it is arguably in most pension scheme members’ interests to have such deficits addressed sooner rather than later, thereby securing their pensions for the long term.