Last month, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford insisted the Scottish Government would not pay for Scottish pensions in the event the party is eventually successful with its independence campaign. This was a position quickly backed by Scotland’s First Minister Ms Sturgeon and Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. Mr Blackford later insisted his comments were “misrepresented” and attempted to clarify the SNP’s position that an independent Scotland would have to pay for their own pensions but expects this to be funded through UK government “compensation”.
It was an embarrassing climb down for the SNP following a backlash from UK pensions minister Guy Opperman, as well as other pensions experts.
But the SNP’s political rivals have been quick to pounce on the new independence row, with Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden branding the party’s position as “delusional and dangerous”.
He warned there are signs of elements of the unsuccessful arguments from the first independence referendum repeating themselves, particularly around what currency a Scotland free from the UK would adopt.
Mr Golden told Express.co.uk: “The mess the SNP got itself into with pensions is typical of most of the issues that come up when separation is discussed.
“The nationalists’ position is that Scotland gets to keep all the good stuff, lose all the bad stuff, and nobody else in the rest of the UK will have any problem with this.
“It’s delusional and dangerous, but fortunately the people of Scotland will see through it.
“The Yes campaign got itself into a similar mess with the currency debate in 2014, and it still doesn’t have a decent response for that years later.
“The SNP must realise that it can’t simply tell lies to the people of Scotland on anything, but especially not the crucial issue of people’s pensions.
“Voters would have far more respect for the separation campaign if the SNP simply came clean and admitted the current set up within the UK is far more beneficial to anything breaking up the union could offer.”
Last month, Mr Blackford had initially stated the Government of the remaining UK would be responsible for paying the Scottish state pension following a successful independence vote.
The following day, Ms Sturgeon was asked at First Minister’s Questions if that was indeed the SNP’s position, and amazingly she took the same stance as the party’s Westminster leader.
But less than two weeks later, Mr Blackford desperately tried to backtrack and clarify the SNP’s position on state pensions in an independent Scotland.
He said a Government in Scotland split from the rest of the UK would pay the country’s pensions but expects this to be funded through UK Government “compensation”.
Mr Blackford told Sky News: “One of the things that we will do when we become independent is we will take responsibility for pensions in Scotland and we will use our taxes overseas to make sure that pensioners are looked after and of course, what we want to make sure is our pensioners get a better deal.
“We’ve just seen the removal of the triple lock for example so we will take our responsibilities.
“Of course, in these negotiations, we want to make sure that when we’re talking about assets and liabilities, we will be properly compensated for the contribution that people have made in anticipation of a pension.
“But let me be absolutely crystal clear: pensions in Scotland will be the responsibility of the Scottish government.
“We will look after our pensioners.”