WHO are today’s senior citizens? They are yesterday’s baby boomers, who shocked their parents, who wore their hair shaggy and their skirts short, who swung to psychedelic rock, who embraced pop art and flower power, who turned on, tuned in and dropped out.

Giving it laldy in the folk song revival: American protest songs by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez; Scottish protest songs from Thurso Berwick’s Rebels Ceilidh Song Books (revived in a recent Celtic Connections concert).

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Marching against Trident, against the Vietnam War, against the poll tax and for the miners. Activists in sundry causes through the last quarter of last century. The seasoned veterans of five past referendums: 1975, 1979, 1997, 2014 and 2016.

Yet in 2014 only 29% of pensioners voted Yes while for under-45s the figure was 68%. If the seniors had only matched the juniors for hope, Yes would have triumphed.

Older voters everywhere have a reputation for resisting change. In the 2014 referendum this was exacerbated by Project Fear attempts to spread uncertainty about pensions (despite reassurances from the Department for Work and Pensions).

Yes supporters dream of an independent Scotland offering a progressive, prosperous and secure future to young and old. Who better to convey this vision to senior citizens than their contemporaries?

Enter the Pensioners for Independence, stage left. Unaffiliated to any political party. Their logo a flirty unicorn of a certain age.

The National:

Pensioners can campaign on each and every day of the week. Locally, it’s stalls. On weekdays along come the grannies and grandpas with toddlers in tow. Out in the precinct the Pensioners for Indy stalls are waiting to greet them.

Yes balloons for the weans. Leaflets for the grandparents. Graphs showing the UK’s trailing position for pensions amongst developed countries, including those small countries which only won independence in the 20th century. International comparisons of health services. The letter from the DWP produced early in 2013, assuring everyone that in an independent Scotland they would still be entitled to the state pension which they had paid for all their lives. The ever-retreating goalpost of the state pension age. First-person accounts from those who have made that journey from “No” to “Yes”.

No longer chained to their workplaces, Pensioners for Indy are mobile. A flying squad to events all over the country at the flash of a bus pass. Their banners wave at independence rallies throughout Scotland and sometimes abroad. At the last Netherlands for Scottish Independence rally in the Hague their co-convener inveigled a spot on stage to wear the T-shirt and promote the cause.

Older people still get much of their information from the printed word. So the Pensioners for Indy write letters to the press, never letting a bit of fake news go unchallenged. A growing number now use social media and are right into Facebook.

In 2017 George Kerevan, Maggie Chapman and Robin McAlpine addressed them in Edinburgh; in 2018 it was Christina McKelvie MSP in Glasgow. At their 2019 AGM in Edinburgh on March 16 the guest speakers will be Joanna Cherry MP, Cllr Ashley Graczyk and National Columnist Wee Ginger Dug with his human companion.

The newest project for the Glasgow group is the Pensioners for Indy Warblers. Wandering minstrels all: with fiddle, drum, pipes and ukulele, offering free entertainment (with singalong words) to lunch clubs, day centres and sheltered housing units. Carols in December, Burns in January and a repertoire of old and new Scottish songs the year round. They make clear their pro-indy sympathies but don’t initiate political discussions. However if members of the audience ask questions they’re happy to engage with them.

The future belongs to our grandchildren. Pensioners for Independence will create for them a future full of hope in a Scotland prosperous, enlightened and free.

Mary McCabe
Co-Convener, Pensioners for Independence (www.pensionersforindependence.scot)

I HAVE been watching the exchanges anent Churchill and racism. What the trendy lefty side of the argument happily ignores is that people exist in their time and place.

In the UK – and unfortunately Unionist Scotland was part and parcel – many racist terms were happily bandied about by the working class, a bit more circumspectly by the middle class. The country was racist to its core. It is true that more advanced thinkers on the left were conscious of racism, but they had little support in that from the class they championed.

One of your correspondents attempts to conflate Nazism with reasoned understanding of 1940s thinking. In the earlier part of the 20th century all were well aware that working people to death and gassing them was immoral, and no-one in their right mind would do so.

R Mill Irving
Gifford, East Lothian

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IN his letter (February 2) George M Mitchell happened to refer to “King Edward Vlll”; a common and perhaps not a serious error. I realise that this may not be very important in the grand scheme of things, but I think that as long as Scotland is an equal partner in the United Kingdom, we should very respectfully get our monarchs’ numbers correct.

There have of course only ever been two UK kings called Edward.

Douglas Hunter
Ancrum, Roxburghshire

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I WISH people would stop referring to the death of Mary Queen of Scots as execution. It wasn’t, it was cold-blooded murder. She was killed for being a Catholic – that was it.

I’m aware of the many other charges thrown at her – all were false. Her betrayal was at the hands of a bunch of protestants led by

John Knox. By rights they should have faced the executioner’s axe for treason.

Paul, Irvine
via text

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