Last Saturday we had the great pleasure of welcoming the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek McKay to Donoch to speak to the local Branches. Derek, as usual was an articulate, informed and passionate speaker but also has the gravitas which comes with having to make some hard decisions in power.
As is normal, questions were concentrated on how we win Indyref2 and especially when it would happen. However for me, one of the key moments came when he referenced the lessons learned about the pensions debate in 2014 and that the Treasury admission that pensions were guaranteed had come too late in the debate. We all know that it was a big issue then and is set to be the same next time.
But what if we could change that? What if we could make it a positive instead?
In 2014 we were pretty much reacting to the Unionists on issues such as pensions and currency generally. But this time we have the Steve Webb statement available from the outset.
Scottish independence: Pensions ‘secure’ post-Yes, says UK minister
Asked by Labour MP Ian Davidson at the Scottish affairs committee whether people could be assured that their pensions would be secure if Scotland votes for independence in September’s referendum, Mr Webb answered: “Yes, they have accumulated rights into the UK system, under the UK system’s rules.”
I use this quote because the question came from Ian Davidson and the source is the bbc, neither exactly even neutral far less friendly to our cause.
What, I wonder would be the impact of using this in advance of Indyref2? Would it help to neutralise the issue, would it highlight how much the Unionists lied, would it, in short, ease the road to YES for some of those who had been scared off Independence in 2014?
Nicola, has said often that we need to win the argument on the “why” of Independence before we win the argument on “when”, and is quite right to do so.
If one of the “why nots” was pensions, can we use this statement on leaflets, billboards and in speeches on a regular basis going forward. This will not be the only example of how people were deliberately misled but it makes the point. Let’s use their own statements to ease the conversion process. If you can give a waverer concrete examples of misinformation it makes it easier for them to change.
There are a number of initiatives now underway of using billboards to for example highlight the fallacies of brexiteers and The National has combined Brexit and Independence on one. We can use these to drive home the messages now. An argument won now is an argument we do not need to have in the future, let’s call it the Steve Webb road to Independence.