Independence referendum an opportunity, not a threat

Age Scotland’s Communications and Campaigns Manager, Lindsay Scott, discusses how the Scottish independent referendum is an opportunity for older people. 

Saltire

Finances, including pensions and benefits, feature regularly among the top three issues in any poll Age Scotland has conducted or commissioned in relation to older Scots’ concerns.

So it can fairly safely be anticipated that these will come to the fore again as older people look for clarity on just what an independent Scotland could mean for them.

Given our older population’s proven propensity to vote in relation to their younger counterparts, financial matters will undoubtedly play a pivotal part in deciding the outcome of the planned referendum on Scottish independence.

And if there are no clear economic benefits, the government will almost certainly face an uphill struggle to persuade a majority of older Scots that independence is the best way forward.

That is why it is important that older people get involved now in deliberations over just what a yes vote in the coming referendum could mean for them and the country as a whole.

Let’s face it, the future solvency of an independent Scotland cannot be guaranteed; although some broad arguments can be made about the merits of being a small country with a large banking sector, having around another three decades’ worth of fairly substantial oil reserves and a burgeoning renewable energy sector.

But when it comes to dividing up public debts, pensions’ liabilities and what’s left of the UK’s gold reserves for example, there could be quite a bun fight.

The Scottish government says that a key principle underpinning the referendum is educated choice and this will ensure voters have the information they need to participate in the national debate and to make an informed decision.

The problem is that this will not be provided until the Referendum Bill has received Royal Assent (expected in November 2013), when the government will publish a comprehensive white paper setting out full details of its offer to the Scottish people.

The onus for providing clarity prior to what will be a defining constitutional moment doesn’t just rest with the Scottish government, however.

Putting aside the inevitable pettiness, partisanship, positioning and political posturing from both camps, it is also incumbent on the pro-union parties to outline just what their vision of Scotland is and what this would mean for the country’s ageing population, for many of whom, the status quo is no longer as attractive as it once was.

It is for example acknowledged that considerable support exists across Scotland for increased responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament short of independence, “devo max” as it has come to be known. What this would entail also needs to be clarified and explained.

The consultation document recently published by the Scottish government is a chance for everyone to influence this referendum on our country’s constitutional future. We should see it as an opportunity to shape the future, not as a threat.

So why not get engaged in the process, ask what you need to know and make sure your own views are made known? That way, regardless of the outcome, you will be able to say you actively participated in something truly historic.

Saltire image © Alistair Williamson 

2 thoughts on “Independence referendum an opportunity, not a threat

    • Hi Grant, many thanks for your comment. We think it is important that civic society is involved in the independence debate. We hope that older people, and indeed people of all ages, make their voices heard.

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