TOMORROW is a rather interesting date: it is not only International Women’s Day, it is also Budget day at Westminster. Another event of national importance for thousands of women in our country will take place at Westminster on that day also: a peaceful demonstration by the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) Group. Those events are in many ways interlinked, because decisions taken by previous Chancellors on Budget days have had a devastating effect on thousands of women’s pension plans.

The WASPI campaign has no issue with equality of state pension age, the issue is the lack of notice which in turn denied many women born in the early 1950s time to make alternative arrangements in light of their delayed state pension.

Legislation entitles one to ten years’ notice of an increase to state pension age.

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So March 8 2017 could not only be an interesting date this year, it could also be the date when the new Chancellor Phillip Hammond MP presents his first Budget – and, hopefully for many women, takes the opportunity to put in place appropriate arrangements to compensate those women denied their legal right.

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk


Is it wise to put EU membership above all else?

THE Scottish Socialist Voice Forum on Independence this weekend [see Notice Board, page 24] could hardly come at a more opportune time for the Yes campaign. We all need space to debate the wisdom, or otherwise, of a second referendum which puts Scotland’s EU membership above everything else. For this appears to be the logic behind the First Minister’s apparently imminent announcement.

What happened to the consensus reached after 2014 that we would only go for another vote when we were ahead in the polls and had been for some time? What happened to the realisation that another defeat would be fatal for our cause?

And with the case for independence not having been made for two years now, why has the First Minister relegated it further to merely being a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations?

She appears to believes the EU is some garden of Eden where privileges are bestowed on Scotland from on high by philanthropic guardian angels in Brussels. The Scottish Socialist Party voted to Remain last year but we did so as the lesser of two evils. And that sums up perfectly, I believe, the opinion of Scotland’s working-class majority. They see the EU as an anti-democratic bureaucracy controlled by an exploitative neo-liberal corporate elite. They voted to Remain because the alternative – an xenophobic, laissez-faire, narrow-minded “Little Englander” challenge – was even worse. The independence movement in Scotland is at a crucial stage. Speaking to ordinary people across the country as I do, I can tell you most do not believe Scotland’s membership of the EU is the issue to deliver us an indyref2 majority. Rather we need to show them how they will be economically, socially and politically better off free from the debilitating constraints imposed upon them – poverty wages, zero-hour contracts, insecurity, austerity and privatisation – by the forces of capital.

Colin Fox, National spokesman, Scottish Socialist Party, Edinburgh

REGARDING recent media reporting of intentions of a second independence referendum. From my understanding the FM has not called for a second independence referendum but has asked for the UK Government to take account of Scotland’s majority wish and for economic reasons, to retain links with the EU if not with full membership then by retaining access to the EU single market.

If there was a political will at Westminster these proposals would be workable. However, much of the press have chosen to ignore this in favour of populist speculation over independence. I would suggest that past experience has shown that Tories do not do compromise and have no interest in seeking one over Europe, regardless of cost, let alone the automatic repatriation of EU competencies to Holyrood.

Peter Gorrie, Edinburgh

THERESA May, Ruth Davidson and Labour are seemingly paranoid over indyref2 and are going hard at it on Project Fear 2. But in fact there is no indyref2. So what is it all about, I ask myself? And I have reached the conclusion that in fact it is all a smokescreen to deflect Scotland’s attention from Brexit.

While we are having our minds poisoned about the SNP, which the majority of us democratically elected to be our government, Article 50 can be triggered behind our backs – by a government we did not elect – and before we know it, it would be too late.

Ruth Davidson is busying herself rubbishing Scotland’s schools when we all know that what she really wants to do is re-introduce prescription charges. Kezia Dugdale meanwhile allows Ian Murray MP to dictate tactics to Scottish Labour MSPs when we all know she wants to be the leader who increases Scottish income tax. They may not be on the same platform together, but they are singing from the same hymn sheet.

So, to my fellow Scots I say, let us blow the smoke away and keep our eye on the ball. Scotland as a nation democratically voted decisively to Remain in the EU. So, let us keep shouting it from the rooftops. And let us not tolerate the opposition parties in Scotland doing our country down and treating us like fools.

To paraphrase Professor Higgins (created by an Irishman): “Why can’t the Tories teach their MPs how to speak – the truth?”

Robert Johnston, Airdrie

I AM led to believe that, taking into account the saving on trade tariffs, administration and the UK’s automatic rebate of 66 per cent, the UK is actually a net beneficiary of membership the EU.

Does anyone have the accurate figures which would support this assumption? If so, it would be scandalous that the Brexiteers got away with their £350 million-a-week claim, which we all know was false anyway.

Pathetic that the Cameron Government was unable to rebut the lies.

Mike Underwood Linlithgow IN response to Willie Snooks’s letter in yesterday’s edition, might I suggest in addition to his proposals that we do this taking the position of on our knees, to better express our timidity in the face of Theresa and her so accommodating government?

Alternatively we could behave like adults and stand up for ourselves.

David Anderson, Dundee