This week the Gazette asked the campaign leaders for their views on the independence debate’s big questions.
Yes campaign chief executive Blair Jenkins and No campaign director Blair McDougall didn’t pull their punches.
And they were only too happy to round-up our independence debate coverage by sharing their views with readers.
In our final question, the two Blairs go toe to toe on pensions in Scotland.
Question: What impact/benefits would independence have on pensions? And would an independent Scotland be able to fund its pensions pot?
Blair Jenkins, Yes campaign: After independence, our state pensions will continue to be paid exactly as now, on time and in full – as even the UK Government acknowledges. So too, will public sector pensions – many of which are already administered in Scotland.
Private pensions will continue to operate as before, with the same levels of protection.
Successive Westminster governments have let pensioners down – from Gordon Brown’s tax raid on pension funds, to George Osborne’s “granny tax”.
The Scottish Parliament has looked after older Scots, with concessionary travel and free personal care. And with control over state pensions the Scottish Government will ensure annual increases of 2.5 per cent, inflation, or wages – whichever is highest – so they always keep up with rising living costs as a minimum. And we can look again at Westminster increases to the state pension age.
We know Scotland would be better able to afford pensions and other forms of ‘social protection’ – they take up less of our tax revenues and national wealth compared to the UK figures.
And we’ll use new job creating powers to provide opportunities for our young people closer to home – protecting family ties and ensuring we can meet the challenge of an ageing population.
Blair McDougall, No campaign: Leaving the UK would put the pensions of people in Clydesdale at risk. The fact is that with an ageing population, paying for pensions is more and more of a challenge and Scotland would be at disadvantage in going it alone.
In private, SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney admits that if we go it alone, pensions would be at risk.
Today the cost of paying pensions is spread across an economy of more than 63 million people rather than just five million people in Scotland.
Being part of the UK has secured the pensions of millions of Scots. Why take on all the burden when we can share the cost and secure the pensions of Scots?
The UK has always fulfilled its obligations to pensioners. It’s not just talked, it has delivered on pensions.
When pushed on how we would fill the big pensions funding gap every expert has identified as a consequence of independence, Alex Salmond says he will increase immigration to Scotland by the equivalent of a new city the size of Edinburgh every 20 years.
But there is no plan for how new workers from abroad are to be employed, housed and given full access to Scotland’s public services.
Alex Salmond is asking our elderly to take a huge risk but it’s one that we don’t have to take. We can have the best of both worlds with our own Scottish Parliament, with more powers guaranteed, backed-up by the strength, security and stability of being part of the UK.
Saying No Thanks to separation is the best way to protect the pensions for our elderly.
Right folks – that’s it. The last of our debate questions. It’s now over to you...we’re going away to cast our votes too and wait for the results to roll in!