The argument is that the economic, social and political policies which can and would be pursued by an independent Scotland would leave its inhabitants in a better place than remaining part of the United Kingdom.
That may or may not be true for those residents who have ‘Scotland’ stamped on their birth certificate as being ‘place of birth’. I shall leave that particular argument to the Scots.
However, whether an independent Scotland would leave all its inhabitants in a ‘better place’ is debatable. There is a forgotten proportion of the population that have probably never even considered how their status will change.
Dorling’s Social Atlas of Britain tells me that: ‘the largest group of immigrants in Britain are the English in Scotland and Wales’. In 2010 alone, 47,000 people came to Scotland from the rest of the UK; in total 8.1% of the population of Scotland in the 2001 census were born in England. These are not people accustomed to being viewed as ‘immigrants’ or ‘white settlers’ as they are sometimes referred to. They may be in for a shock, one that they would be well advised to avoid by looking for answers from the silvery tongued politicians – before deciding how to vote.
They are, of course, provisionally entitled to vote in the forthcoming referendum. That is based on residency. They live in Scotland, and the question of independence is largely one of ‘self determination’ and ‘pride’ in their adopted country.
However, and it is a big ‘however’, they will have paid into the giant Ponzi scheme known officially as the British Age Pension for many years. Now I am assuming that part of the independence calculations will be taking over a chunk of the Age Pension ‘Fund’ as it is laughably called, though it is, in truth, no Fund. Let us accept that Scotland will be handed a sum of money to cover those pensions liable to be paid out to persons who have been paying into the ‘British Age Pension’.
Will Scotland grant citizenship to everybody living in that country on the date of independence? Unlikely. Will they grant citizenship to everybody entitled to vote in the referendum? Equally unlikely.
Far more likely is that those not blessed with the words ‘Scotland’ on their birth certificate will be in the same position as those British Citizens who chose to live in Spain or Australia, Canada or France. They will remain British citizens, with British, not Scottish passports, who happen to be resident in another country.
They will have become part of that unloved army of expatriates, Britons who have ‘forsaken’ their Mother country…actually, they are not that unloved at all by the British Government. They save her a small fortune. She pays a nominal sum each year to the ‘foreign government’ in whose borders they reside – no matter how expensive their medical needs become, and depending on which country they are living in, HM saves another small fortune in pension increases.
Should Scotland not be accepted as a member of the European Community – then all those ‘British pensions’ paid directly to ‘British Pensioners’ as opposed to Scottish citizens, will be frozen at the date of independence. No more pension increases. Ever. Do you imagine that the Scottish Government is going to pay out to increase the pension of ‘foreign nationals’ just because they happen to be living in Scotland? Think on.
Even if Scotland is accepted as an independent nation within the European Community – then HM government has a few nasty shocks up her sleeve to penalise those Britons who now ‘live overseas’. Forced to pay out minimum pension increases by European Union coordinating Regulations, which are in place to protect a citizen’s right of free movement within the EU, now enshrined in Article 21 of the consolidated Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union does not mean that they have to include things like the Winter Fuel Payment (WFP).
Those shivering in the frozen waste north of Aberdeen may be dismayed to discover that if they didn’t claim the WFP whilst living within the British Isles – either because they relocated long before such a payment became applicable, or because they have only reached the required age since independence – that the British government fondly imagines ‘overseas’ or even ‘over Hadrian’s Wall’ to be synonymous with the Malaga Golf club, and that therefore they have no need of additional heating in the winter since they are ‘living in sunnier climes’.
No good appealing to the Scottish government – you’re an ‘immigrant’, a foreign national, the responsibility of your own government.
No good appealing to the British government – you’re an ‘emigrant’, a deserter of the Albion shores, you are your own responsibility.
Don’t imagine it will change either – there’s an estimated one million pensioners living ‘overseas’ and any change in the current rules would have to apply to them too, not a change that HM government will undertake without being legally forced to.
So here’s a question for you to pose to the next silver tongued SNP politician who arrives on your doorstep.
‘You might want my vote now for the Referendum, but what will be my pension status after nationalisation?’