PENSIONERS for Independence has relaunched with a clear warning – ignore elderly voters and we could lose a second independence referendum.

Group organiser Gordon Smith said this is the “reincarnation of Pensioners for Independence” and their votes are vital if we are to win a second referendum.

The retired oil company manager and teacher Gordon Smith, 64, of Torphins in Royal Deeside, said: “The turnout for pensioners in the last referendum was around 97 per cent which I found amazing, but 75 per cent of the pensioners who did vote voted no.

“Engaging pensioners is the problem, the last thing we should be doing is sticking something on Facebook and Twitter – for pensioners these are essentially ineffectual. This time we have to target them individually at their homes or care homes and invite them out to meetings, leaflet them and engage them in the conversation about how it is important to them.

“We only have to get five per cent of the pensioners who voted no to vote yes and we could win but engaging them is the problem. We will have to come up with a plan to make this thing work.

“The message we want to get across is that we need to focus on pensioners as the strategic goal of the next campaign because if we can crack that nut and get four, five or six per cent of those who voted no, we can win. If we ignore them again we could possibly lose again, it is as simple as that.”

Pensioners across Scotland are galvanising support in their own regions and members of Pensioners for Independence met up in Edinburgh recently and agreed a framework for their organisation.

Peter Swain, honourary secretary for the group, said: “We approved a draft constitution for the group, and began making plans for future campaigning, including high-visual-profile events linked with leaflet distributions in town centres. Plans were also discussed for fundraising to pay for leaflets, posters and other publicity materials.”

Smith said that he and Swain decided that, having seen the demographics that older voters were crucial to the next referendum, and that they were largely ignored the last time, that they needed to get campaigning on the ground to win their vote.

Smith added: “The aim is to set up individual groups around the country headed up by a few people and then to co-ordinate some campaign strategies and try to buy into any larger campaign that is launched. We are trying to get enough support across the country to cover different regional areas so we can co-ordinate our campaign.

“I feel the last time, pensioners were forgotten about because the majority of the campaigning was done online. I think that was the problem. There are firewalls for pensioners. The first one is trying to get past the mainstream media like the Daily Mail, the Express and the broadcast media, and it is very difficult to get them to engage. So how do you reach these people? It is a strategy that has to be developed.”

Smith said the two main issues that are close to pensioners’ hearts are the continuation of their pensions and the NHS. He added: “These issues were addressed before the last referendum but the answers didn’t seem to reach them. It is quite clear that their pensions would be safe but the media didn’t pick it up.

“We have to overcome the firewalls of contacting them but once you get them it is amazing the difference you can make, once the rationale comes to them they realise that what they understand to be the truth isn’t actually the truth. It is getting the information to them that is challenging.

“The only way we are going to reach them is engaging with them individually, brining them into the conversation by asking them what do they want, what are their concerns. The fear they will lose their pensions was generated by Better Together during the last independence referendum. They were frightening people.

“I met one man who was incandescent with fear because he had been told that if we voted yes he would be repatriated. He was shouting and screaming. It is up to us to speak to people quietly and calmly and inform them of what is in in their best interests.”

Smith went on to say he didn’t believe the NHS was as big an issue as the media suggests after getting feedback from pensioners angry at the negativity surrounding the health service and claims that it’s in crisis