WHEN Lloyd George copied Germany’s example and introduced the first old-age pensions to Britain in January 1909, the reform was limited to the poorest in society but it proved a very welcome move away from traditional government laissez-faire policies and provided a re-evaluation of the state’s role in supporting the lives of its people.

This role was to be dramatically transformed following the wartime Beveridge report and the subsequent Labour government of 1945 wherein the National Insurance Act and the National Assistance Act were well-intentioned attempts to improve the lot of pensioners generally and the most needy in particular.

READ MORE: Tories planning 'scandalous' raise of retirement age in UK

Unsurprisingly, under the present UK Government the whole Dickensian question of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor has risen its ugly head again, this time in flying a proverbial kite to gauge whether or not bumping up the retirement age well ahead of schedule would be tolerable to the man and woman in the street. The original Liberal pension was granted to those over 70 years of age and it would appear that the Tories are using this as their benchmark for the next generation, doubtlessly hoping to save billions despite the penury and misery this decision may cause.

Comparing the current UK state pension with other countries across Europe is far from straightforward due to different formulas that include private as well as state-provided pensions but a government report from last year clarified that the UK spends far less, as a proportion of GDP, on state pensions than most European countries. Levels of pensioner poverty were also found to be higher, in some cases significantly so, than most other European countries.

READ MORE: Fife Waspi woman's fury over plan to raise pension age

I am reminded that part of “Project Fear” in 2014 prior to the independence referendum witnessed Unionist politicians and Z-list celebrities like Archie MacPherson regaling elderly people with horror stories about how their pensions would disappear in an independent state. Sadly, this disreputable tactic met with some success and the question of pensions and other state benefits was not adequately or adeptly broadcasted by those of a pro-indy persuasion, a mistake that cannot be repeated in the immediate future.

In the face of the least interventionist government in recent times, the only way to safeguard a realistic and timeous pension for those who require it is to achieve an independent Scotland that believes in equality, inclusion and social justice. Just make it quick!

Owen Kelly

I READ a lot of letters concerning independence, some more interesting than others, but most referencing the UK Government.

I wonder why it is that proponents of independence cannot attempt to solve the democratic process without including the Westminster Parliament as a force to be reckoned with.

At no time have any of the last four Tory governments in the last ten years given a genuine legal reason as to why Scotland cannot be an independent country. “Now is not the time” was a favourite catchphrase. Or “once in a generation” referring to the 2014 failed referendum. More recently it's been “too wee, too poor, too stupid” and “Scotland has no desire to join the EU”.

READ MORE: The best of Brian Cox's views on Scottish independence

The infamous “Section 30” has obviously run its never-going-to-happen course, as has any real interest in Scotland by the Westminster government. (I am trying hard to not refer it as a UK Government as I believe the United Kingdom no longer exists.)

What appears to be left by the Scottish Government is a couple of plebiscite elections which will be designated as independence elections. First the Westminster Parliamentary election and if that fails then the Scottish Holyrood Parliament election. The independence can is being kicked further down the yellow brick road.

To date, no-one in the Scottish Government has paid any interest to Scotland’s “Claim of Right”. There are several thousand of the Scottish populace who are now well-informed of the recently discovered and published Claim of Right, its historical origin and legal context as to where it still exists as a point of Scottish law to this day and beyond.

READ MORE: As long as Scotland is treated as a 'region', it cannot be a democracy

I agree with something Gordon Ross suggested that perhaps the original wording might be better understood if the Claim of Right document was brought up to date in a more modern grammatical context.

However, that would not change the power of the Claim of Right, which gives the people of Scotland the right to walk away from the Union of two parliaments, and reclaim its pre-1707 independence.

There is no need to ask anyone else’s permission except the people of Scotland. It is for us to decide. It is for us to claim our right, it is for us to “flourish and be the nation again”, as gloriously sung in Scotland’s anthem at every Scottish national rugby match.

Alan Magnus-Bennett

ANOTHER excellent article from Steph Paton in Tuesday’s National with their usual forensic analysis of the current dangerous forces at work within the UK (Fascism has already dug into the fabric of the UK, Jan 23).

Let’s not forget that British nationalism with a fascistic element also has a sizeable following in Scotland too.

One slight quibble with Steph’s piece: the trans lobby sometimes appear to be aggressive, intolerant and hateful in their arguments, refusing to brook any point of view that is not in line with their own – to the extent where even reasoned and sincere questions are hysterically denounced as transphobic. This looks like an attempt to deny or silence anyone who dares to voice doubts about, for example, the Gender Recognition Reform bill.

Jim Butchart
via email