Age Scotland’s Communications and Campaigns Manager, Lindsay Scott, discusses the importance of including older people’s views in the independence referendum.
Despite, or perhaps because they are our elected representatives, it’s high time that Scotland’s politicians realised it’s not just them who should determine policies for the nation we live in.
The constitutional future of our country is the most important political decision that any of us will ever make and it is crucial that deliberations are moved away from the control of politicians and that civic society has its say on the independence debate.
People want and deserve to be much better informed about this debate and right now the focus on legality and process in the arguments for and against a new constitutional settlement for Scotland is actually a distraction. The role of civic society is crucial to ensuring there is a substantive debate on the issue.
Age Scotland believes that it is incumbent upon Scottish civil society to come together, that business, the trades unions, organised religion, all political parties and bodies such as the Scottish Youth Parliament can all widen the scope of debate and help thrash out what could emerge as the thorny issues. We would be happy to help facilitate older people’s involvement in this process.
Age Scotland has no opinion on the constitutional settlement per se. What we are concerned about is how will a post-2014 Scotland meet the needs of our ageing population and how will we tackle the big issues i.e. poverty, discrimination, fairness, growth and prosperity?
At Age Scotland we have been listening to our members who have deep roots and powerful affiliations in their communities. They have a genuine desire and strong appetite to play an active role in examining and determining the kind of society and country we would like to be in the future.
There is no doubt that many older people feel their voices have been missing from recent discussions about the health and care implications of our changing demography. Over the next two years, it will be to the detriment of the whole debate and in the long run democratically damaging if we don’t respect their wisdom and experience and tap into those as part of each and every conversation.
We eagerly await the publication of the Scottish Government’s consultation paper on the proposed independence referendum within the next fortnight and are hopeful that its stated commitment to establishing consensus will herald a change in the tone and inclusivity of this important debate.