1. Anne Donohoe opened the meeting by welcoming everybody, and introduced our speakers, John Bratton and Ross Grahame on the subject of Independence for young and old.
2. A Livestream is available for people who couldn’t make the meeting.
3. Apologies: Selma Rahman, Rene Hamilton
4. There were 19 Email addresses given will be added to the mailing list unless anyone objects.
5. John Bratton gave an overview of how Pensioners for Independence came into being, a personal view of the highlights of their Edinburgh conference, and his view of the path ahead. He noted Craig Dalzell’s statistics on the demographic timebomb (to which there is no single, easy solution), Maggie Chapman’s ideas on a cooperative approach to care, and George Kerevan’s views on the affordability of pensions (using a full range of VAT, Corporation taxes and a Sovereign Wealth fund) – with the observation that pensions weren’t even mentioned in the Budget leading to the suspicion that they could be targeted for another Treasury raid. He reviewed the status of Brexit (with the prospect of a low wage, low tax UK with hollowed-out public services), the lack of commitment to the triple lock on pensions, and the Rowantree Trust’s assessment that 300,000 over 65’s are about to enter poverty. In that context, our campaigning should highlight the risks of staying in the UK (for all age groups) and the fact that leaving would be exciting. We need to ensure that the Yes movement withstands the centuries-old British technique of “divide-and-rule”. Statistics and evidence are needed on pensions, currency, healthcare etc – but we also need to promote success stories in Scotland. Recognise that there is huge diversity in education, experience, prosperity and gender of pensioners, which colours their political thinking. And remember that Pensioners know and care about the problems of the 16-35 year-olds. We need to teach the kids, who will then teach their parents and grandparents what we want independence for – an end to Trident, fairer social policies, an end to neoliberalism etc.
6. Ross Grahame of Young Scots for Independence then gave his views on how to campaign for independence, combining the energy of young people with guidance from older people. A good example is that the young would be keen to knock on doors, but need advice on what are the best doors to knock. He was politically motivated after talking to a Big Issue seller, who answered a question about what he would like for his kids for Christmas by replying “shoes” – this shouldn’t happen in the 21st century in the 15th richest country in the world. Of course, the young are optimistic and idealistic, but the message needs to be clearer about how independence will change lives. The young are more interested in action than in meetings – we need to stop re-organising and start campaigning – action is the way to attract young people. The 2 major changes since 2014 are Brexit and Corbyn. Brexit is driving young people to Yes, which is the biggest force in politics in a long, long time. Corbyn is not as influential as Londoners think – like Sanders, he is seen as old, prosperous and white.
7. There then ensued a lively question and answer session. How do we attract a younger crowd? Could we offer to help them with issues that concern them (e.g. advice on benefit sanctions)? What transformative policies could we propose (e.g. eradicate homelessness). Why do so many young people have to move out of Scotland to find good jobs? Can young people get involved to drive the Yes social media? How do we persuade pensioners of the case for independence? (the critical thing being pension age rather than amount, as it creeps towards 72 and beyond – the strategy being to minimise pensions payouts). In talking to voters, we need to focus on micro campaigns – what are the issues for you? Can we help address them now? How will independence help address those issues? How do we get the young to vote as reliably as the old?
- AOCB: Anne finished with some announcements:
8.1 Gerry asked that we support the Catalan prisoners by sending Christmas cards
8.2 Peter Lynch’s new book is available for sale (£14.99, part of which will go to our Yes funds)
8.3 Future events:
16 Dec (Dunblane) Local group conference to discuss the SIC conference
7 Jan (Banshee Labyrinth) Film night – Atlantic
3 Feb (Waterside social club) YES Edinburgh and Lothians meeting
5 Feb (Newliston Arms) Audrey Birt – how to speak about independence in the future
You’ll find us on Yes Edinburgh West website, Facebook , National Yes Registry and Twitter. Have a look at our Eflets, book previews and film previews. There is also a library of useful information on our SNP branch Forum on Yes liaison.