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When there’s no more to be said

Posted on April 26, 2014 by

We suppose we have to credit “Better Together” with SOME intelligence after all. It seems they’ve finally and belatedly learned that Tory ministers coming up and lecturing Scotland is a counter-productive business, so this week they sent Gordon Brown in to do Iain Duncan Smith’s dirty work for him, by issuing dire warnings about the cost of welfare in an independent Scotland using figures helpfully fed to him by IDS’s Department for Work and Pensions.


But the UK government also released, with rather less fanfare, some other figures about pensions this week that didn’t reflect quite as well on the Labour former Chancellor and Prime Minister.

And to be honest, we can’t put it any more concisely than the Daily Mail has today.

“The devastating impact of Labour’s infamous raid on pensions can be laid bare today. Official figures reveal that the tax grab has saved the Treasury – and cost workers – £118 billion since 1997.

In one of his first decisions as chancellor, Gordon Brown scrapped tax relief on pension firms’ dividends. The move is blamed for wrecking a once thriving industry and fuelling the closure of many final salary schemes.

Analysis by the Office for Budget Responsibility shows it has saved the Treasury almost £7 billion a year – £2 billion more than Mr Brown had expected. The annual gain is expected to top £9.7 billion this year with £117.9 billion saved between 1997 and 2014.

The OBR quietly published the figures on its website this week.

Ros Altmann, a former Downing Street pension adviser, said Labour’s move marked ‘the beginning of the end of the gold standard pension that British workers could rely on from their boss’.

She added: ‘This is money that has come out of people’s pensions. It paved the way for the end of final salary schemes because it made them so much more expensive. They were suddenly unaffordable.’

Since 1997, the number of private sector workers with a defined benefit pension has collapsed from 5 million to 1.7 million.

In 1997, 34% of staff at private sector firms were in a final salary – or defined benefit – scheme. By 2012, this had slumped to just 8% – just one in 12.”

(While we’d normally view Daily Mail and OBR claims with considerable scepticism, the latter organisation might be terrible at predicting the future but it’s rather better at simply counting up things which have already happened, and its findings are so damning the Mail doesn’t even have to spin them.)

Roughly 10 million people in the UK are pensioners. Gordon Brown’s raid has already effectively cost every single pensioner in the country almost £12,000, and will continue to steal money from them every day until they die.

And still – safely cushioned from poverty by his own enormous Westminster pension pot, a fat MP’s salary he still draws despite the fact that he almost never turns up in the Commons and calls himself an “ex-politician”, an extra £115,000 a year for being an ex-PM, and the groaning bank balance of the pseudo-“charity” that pays to fly Gordon and his wife first-class across the globe to stay in five-star hotels – Brown feels he can get away with lecturing Scots that it’s independence that poses a threat to their retirement.

We’ve got nothing else to add to that.

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    1. 28 04 14 07:46

      When there’s no more to be said | FreeScotland

    111 to “When there’s no more to be said”

    1. MajorBloodnok says:

      I really like the way Labour is continually being hung out to dry these days. Gives me a warm glow inside.

    2. Gordon Hay says:

      Don’t forget his £150,000 a year ex-PM’s allowance too.

      I see a letter in the Scotsman today claiming his speech/lecture wasn’t really about pensions but was his “vision” for a strengthened Scotland within the UK – is this the new line to try to defuse the toxic Tory tool accusations?

    3. handclapping says:

      We, the electors of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath can not complain of our MP’s non-attendance in the House. In fact his voting % is at present better than it has been in the three previous Parliaments!

      Its Gordon Brown, we should have checked.

    4. cynicalHighlander says:

      Moral compass man strikes again.

    5. BigRik says:

      I just got a BT leaflet through the door, they must have been running, by the time i opened the door to helpfully tell them where it could go, they were gone…. must be using Mo Farah.

    6. Adrian B says:

      It really does just show how much that the Tories run not just Westminster but Labour north and South of the border. I really do feel sorry for those in England that have little to chose from between any party likely of getting into Downing Street. Its been like this since Thatcher and Labour MPs seem to have a more Tory stance today than the Conservatives did back then.

    7. Findlay Farquaharson says:

      same wavelength as dennis.

    8. M4rkyboy says:

      So,what happened with SPT Stu?You tweeted that you had figures for the amount of complaints they received,curious to see how many.

    9. Croompenstein says:

      Why is this man not taken to task for this? Why is Flipper not being detained at HM’s pleasure? These champagne socialists are criminals pure and simple and should not be given a platform to lecture anyone!

    10. RogueCoder says:

      Sorry Rev, I know you hate this, but need to go OT for just a sec:

      Nicola just tweeted a pic of Yes Scotland shop in Stirling. Had a look on indiegogo and it’s woefully underfunded. Any Wingers with a few spare pennies in their pockets could really help out.

    11. Alba4Eva says:

      Cameron was right, when he said; “We are all in this together”

      Tory’s, Labour, UKIP, Lib Dems… all clearly in it together.

    12. Jimbo says:

      Aye, Labour have a lot to answer for when it comes to stealing money out of the pockets of the working classes.

      I remember watching the labour benches when they doubled the taxes on the lowest paid from 10% to 20%. Oh, how they clapped and cheered. It was obviously very heart-warming for them.

    13. Capella says:

      If he “scrapped tax relief on pension firms’ dividends” does that not mean that the tax relief was given to the shareholders? I heard recently that UK pension companies charge over 30% admin costs, so have they perhaps just passed on the loss of tax relief to the pensioners? I believe that our state pensions are the worst in Europe and around 4th from the bottom in the OECD. How can Willie Rennie argue on GMS this morning that we are better in the union to safeguard our pensions?!

    14. Fiona says:

      I do wish that people would stop promoting this narrative of a raid on pensions by Brown et al. I hold no brief for them at all, but it is not helpful to keep repeating right wing lies. If we have to do that to win this referendum then it is not worth winning

      Brown closed a tax loophole. He did not “raid pensions”. The employers took the golden opportunity to use his action as a cover for doing what they wanted to do in any case: close down defined benefits schemes on the grounds they were not affordable.

      These are the same employers who took massive “contributions holidays” when the schemes were in surplus. They grew to like not paying and that is all that happened. They could well have afforded to pay into those schemes and they chose not to

      Why do people persistently lay blame at the wrong door when it is so clearly against their interest to do that? You all know that the MSM is utterly unreliable on the question of Scottish independence:so why is it so widely believed in other areas?

    15. gordoz says:

      Now that Labour & Tory are in a ‘formal coalition’, against Scotland (not just in Stirling Council) and as the FM says, Labour activist foot soldiers are to be the bearers of the Unioinist message, on behalf of ‘Tory Money’ funding the campaign against Scottish Civic & political emansipation, it pays to rake over the ‘Brown Labour’ record.

      Lets read that again LABOUR !

      “The devastating impact of Labour’s infamous raid on pensions can be laid bare today. Official figures reveal that the tax grab has saved the UK Treasury – and cost workers – £118 billion since 1997 to 2014″ ( pro rata £11- 12 billion pinched from Scottish Pension pot / say ?)

      How does that feel scottish Labour activists.
      Gordon Brown (respected socialist – don’t make me laugh), learned everything from Robert Maxwell!

      Safe pair of hands ?

      “Aye to pick yer pocket & chastise you when you moan about it”

      ‘Pulling & Sharing resources’ (like this and North sea Oil)

      ‘Best of both Worlds’ (Shafted from the front and the back)

      ‘Broad shoulders’ (Look good in suits / not help the needy)

      ‘Open & honest debate’ (Premise of public forums; reality?)

      Remember – thumbs up / smiley face > ‘Were Better Together’
      (or is it tied up by Labour bullshxt)

    16. galamcennalath says:

      As per Wings cartoon today, not to worry, Milliband tells us Labour will get it right next time.

      Vote Yes. Two birds with one stone, get rid of Eton Tories and London Labour.

    17. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “So,what happened with SPT Stu?You tweeted that you had figures for the amount of complaints they received,curious to see how many.”

      Coming up later 🙂

    18. Hardin says:


      My final salary scheme had an income that was around £1billion higher than its pension payment liability. I don’t think it was closed on the grounds of unaffordability.

    19. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Don’t forget his £150,000 a year ex-PM’s allowance too.”

      Gah, I knew there was something else I meant to add. Ta for the reminder. (But it’s a mere trifling £115K, not £150K.)

    20. Truth says:

      I’m sorry this article is inaccurate. Gordon Brown’s tax grab isn’t stealing £12,000 from current pensioners. That’s not how pensions work. They will be paid what they were promised. Even at the expense of those still in these schemes but yet to retire.

      It has stolen it from future pensioners, hence the closure of these defined benefit schemes to new entrants.

    21. Davy says:

      Perhaps an independent Scotland could consider re-instateing a form of “tax relief” on pension firms dividends.

      Labour stole from the pensioners, we at least could give some or all of that tax relief back, and lets see labour argue against that.

    22. galamcennalath says:

      OT Where’s Darling? Last media mention of any appearance seems to be two weeks ago.

    23. M4rkyboy says:

      Oh yes,can we run a guessing game to see if anyone can guess the correct figure?
      I reckon they got 2740 complaints.

    24. Fiona says:

      @ Hardin

      Precisely. So why was it really closed? It was certainly nothing to do with closing the ACT loophole

    25. Alba4Eva says:

      Fiona. Have a read of this…

      The media are are not to be trusted, but that does not mean they are always wrong about everything.

      My memory serves me that Brown raided pensions, sold the gold and blew it all on illegal wars.

    26. Luigi says:

      And to think that, it was a Labour chancellor, Gordon Brown committed this dastardly deed against the pensioners. Margaret Thatcher would have been so proud of him.

      No wonder Thatcher said that “New Labour” was her greatest achievement. Who needs tories when you have New Labour?

      Utterly despicable.

    27. HandandShrimp says:

      The week of the big guns has been another damp squib from Better Together.

      It was obvious that IDS had allowed the DWP to provide Brown with stats (leaked my arse) and it was obvious that Brown was doing the Coalition’s dirty work for them and not all that convincingly either.

      The “shadow cabinet” thing has been totally overtaken by the CBI omnishambles and Margo’s send off, it got scant recognition even on the Beeb this morning. Ed came, saw the inside of a couple of halls and mumbled something.

      In the meantime I think Alistair was sensibly at Margo’s farewell rather than anywhere near the current scrabbling around for a clue.

    28. Helena Brown says:

      @ RogueCoder, donation sent, wishing them all the luck in the world, shop looks well stocked and if we can find our way to Stirling again after our foray there last week will be happy to browse.

    29. ian foulds says:

      Dare I say that from a non-expert’s point of view but recalling that businesses did indeed take ‘pension holidays’ (and no doubt other nefarious actions/inactions, Fiona may have a point or two here.

    30. Truth says:

      @Fiona 11:41

      It is not as simple as you suggest.

      The companies had no choice but to take contribution holidays.

      If a scheme was overfunded (as determined in the tri-annual valuation) then the taxman (there he us again) would not allow further contributions. He might not get so much Corporation Tax you see.

      This had the added damage that companies which could afford, but not pay contributions in good times, were then less able to afford contributions in the bad times.

      So, I’m afraid the pensions debacle is entirely the fault of successive Chancellors, not least Gordon Brown.

    31. Helena Brown says:

      Looking at Nu Labour/Labour, it seems when in power they cannot help themselves. They become the thing they rail at out of power. The last Nu Labour Government was so bad that people will have to swallow their conscience to vote for them. I even recognise that the English are smarter than the average Scot and say that if a party does not work for them they go elsewhere. Gordon Brown knows he cannot show his face South of the Border, he is so disliked therefore he hides up here, that is when he is home.

      The man is a disgrace and should be shunned by all, he certainly should not be given a platform to talk to people on the very subject he was an abject failure, well at least for the recipients, I am sure he merely did the job for many of the employers who were happy to see the end of the Final Salary pension scheme. I always said this would eventually come back to bite the Government, well which ever Government is then in power. I was wrong, it is going to bite those who paid and will be all the poorer.

    32. Truth says:


      Oh don’t forget Brown and Thatcher were good friends with Brown saying he “admired” her.

      There’s just two visits she made to him in Downing Street.

    33. G. Campbell says:

      Mishal Husain got a bit tetchy with Brandon Malone when she was defending the CBI on the Today programme earlier this morning.


      (skip past James Naughtie to 37:18)

    34. G. Campbell says:

      Mishal’s booked to host the First Women Awards in June. “Created by Real Business and the CBI.” Not that she mentioned it.

    35. heedtracker says:

      @ Truth, Fiona’s missing the whole point. Brown is Project Fearing it with his Scotland is not capable of supporting pensions, only the UK is so vote no. But the reality is very different, unless your same Gordon Brown having money fights with Flipper Darling, and socialist worker Blair and his £75 million stash, various mansions etc.

    36. iheartscotland says:

      Just donated,thanks for letting us know.

    37. Fiona says:

      @ Alba4Eva

      I have read that narrative since the change was made: repetition does not make it true and you will see from the link that it is acknowledged that he closed a tax loophole: that is all he did. The aim was to ensure that shareholder dividends were taxed, because under the arrangements at the time a great many were escaping tax altogether.

      ACT was paid by companies. who deducted it from the dividends they paid to shareholders at the same rate as basic income tax for most of the period it was in force. Because it was notional income tax (in the same way as bank interest is taxed at source, as are wages) the recipients could claim it back if they were not liable to pay tax. Pension funds fell into that category because they are not liable for income tax and they therefore claimed that relief.

      When ACT was scrapped companies no longer paid the tax and therefore nobody could reclaim it. It seems pretty obvious to me that the fall in income suffered by the shareholders was matched by the rise in income for companies who no longer paid that tax. The shortfall could obviously have been made up by companies paying gross rather than net dividends: but they didn’t. Instead many companies took contributions holidays so they did not even pay in as much as they had before. That was their choice, and it was nothing to do with ACT: it just gave them the opportunity to blame government for something they decided to do. And they had the full backing of the press to do it. By now that has become the “truth” through repetition of the big lie.

    38. RogueCoder says:

      As they say over at Google, +1 🙂

      We’ve doubled their funding in less than an hour, but there’s still a long way to go. Spread the word, spread the positive message.

    39. Truth says:

      @Fiona 12:25

      Companies are obliged to fund their pension arrangements.

      The only time they took pension holidays was when schemes were over funded. This is determined by actuaries in a tri-annual valuation.

      If a scheme was valued at over 105% (I think it was) of projected liabilities, then companies WERE NOT ALLOWED to contribute until at least the next valuation 3 years later.

      The taxman would not allow them to contribute as this allowed them to avoid corporation tax.

      You are not as right as you think you are.

    40. Fiona says:

      @ Truth

      Certainly if the schemes were overfunded the companies had to do something about that, for just the reasons you give: it was open to abuse as a means of avoiding corporation tax. Nobody objects if they deal with that problem through contributions holidays: though to say they had no choice is nonsense: because they could have achieved the same effect by giving the workers contributions holidays. We know this, for some few did do that: but the vast majority did not.

      Your point on corporation tax rendering firms less able to make up any later shortfall is not correct: the aim of the abolition of ACT was an attempt to get companies to invest (investment is tax deductible) rather than pay out dividends because of the skewed incentive which arose from the ACT regime. Lack of investment is a perennial problem for British Corporations, for they are greedy. All sorts of things have been tried do reverse that, but to no avail. British business does not have an entrepreneurial bone in its body: they are rentiers to a man. (OK I exaggerate; but not by much)

      The problem is the businessmen: they do not want you to have security in old age through distribution of their profits into a pensions entitlement: they want to keep the money for their short term gain.

      Brown was certainly warned that is what they would do: but he has bought into a “rational agents” premise which underpins neoclassical economics and so he did not believe that would be the outcome: just like Alan Greenspan was shocked to find that businesses left free of effective oversight did not behave in the interests of us all on the basis of the magic ~”invisble hand” which is part of the same philosophy

      There is no doubt what the problems are here: naked greed in contest with ideologically underpinned ideas that we are all in it together.

      Brown should have known better: we can blame him for that. But he is not the cause of the pension poverty we now face: that is the fault of the financial elite

    41. Grouse Beater says:

      he closed a tax loophole: that is all he did.

      Not really, as you explain yourself, and if most of his enemies are to be believed, he short-sightedness destroyed the pension scheme. It’s the same thing he did to funding UK films; he was advised two companies were exploiting tax loopholes so he closed down the entire tax break scheme.

      The Clunking Fist sums him up admirably.

    42. Fiona says:

      @ Grouse Beater

      On this issue his enemies are your enemies and they are my enemies. He did not destroy the pensions schemes: the companies did.

    43. Grouse Beater says:

      He did not destroy

      You mean he was unable or did not trouble to redress the balance?

      Cause and effect.

      If a chancellor cannot predict the outcome of his policies but claims all he does is for the common good what are we to make of him? Inept?

    44. Democracy Reborn says:


      I agree that we shouldn’t simply peddle right-wing scare stories about Brown (or anything else), but I’m afraid you’re wrong.

      Relief on pension dividend payments was not a “tax loophole”. A loophole is where a person or corporation (legally) circumvents payment of tax to defeat the intention of Parliament. An example would be where where someone avoids paying tax in one jurisdiction by forming a residence in another location.

      The tax relief previously available on pension dividend payments was entirely proper & within the spirit, & letter, of the law. You may also remember, for example, that we all used to benefit from mortgage interest payment relief at source. Brown & his economic advisors (Balls et al.) would have been well & truly aware of the consequences of withdrawing the relief for pensions. For him now to pontificate about the “risks” to pensions in an independepent scotland is breathtaking hypocrisy.

    45. MajorBloodnok says:

      A heated discussion about pensions. It’s like the Standard Life canteen in here. In a good way, obviously.

    46. Grouse Beater says:


      You may also remember, for example, that we all used to benefit from mortgage interest payment relief at source

      I can remember VAT at 12%.

      Look where we are now.

    47. Grouse Beater says:

      A heated discussion about pensions

      True. I’m self-employed. I don’t look forward to the level of my state pension. How the hell do people survive on it as their only source of income?

    48. TheItalianJob says:

      Yes mine and all my colleagues final salary pension was wound up end of last year. I’m lucky though I’m 2 years off 60 when I can receive it so only lost 2 years worth. But a lot of my colleagues are in their 30’s and 40’s and they are the ones mostly affected.

      How dare GB spout to the pensioners of Scotland that their pensions will be greatly affected if Scotland votes for Independence.

      The hypocrisy of this man is beyond all comprehension. I rest my case on him and the Labour party which until this year I had supported all my life. No more. No more.

    49. turnbull drier says:

      Just donated,thanks for letting us know.

    50. G H Graham says:

      Gordon Brown finished the job, started by the Conservatives; to completely abolish tax relief on share dividends in 1997.

      Previously, share dividends earned by pension schemes enjoyed tax relief. Dividends are a cash equivalent income & the tax relief permitted those dividends to be earned at a low or zero rate of income tax.

      The value of these tax relieved dividends added significantly to the pension fund. However, the effect of abolishing the tax relief was estimated by several eminent actuaries in 1997 to cost pensioners about £5 billion per year.

      The OBR report appears to confirm that actuaries had slightly under estimated the cost to pensioners, since the total cost so far,as mentioned above, is £118 billion vs the £100 billion that was predicted.

      Make no mistake though. This was entirely by the hands of Gordon “End of boom & bust” Brown. He was strongly advised at the time not to follow through, even falling out with Tony Blair over the issue, but decided to proceed regardless.

      Thus, Gordon Brown displays staggering hypocrisy, by warning Scots that their pensions would be in jeopardy as a result of choosing independence.

    51. Fiona says:

      @ Grouse Beater and Democracy Reborn

      As I have already said, I hold no brief for Gordon Brown. He should have known better and for that he is culpable; doubly culpable, in fact, for he claimed to be some sort of socialist. If anyone should know how corporations will act in their own interests a socialist should: because that is intrinsic to an analysis based on class

      What I am saying is that it was not a raid on pensions and it did not have to have the outcome that it did: that was the (predictable granted) decision of the corporations

      The reason I am discussing this is because it matters if we win this referendum: the decisions we will have the power to take in the early years will be crucial, and I am really concerned that we gain the referendum and then implement the policies which have made independence necessary because we buy into the other right wing narratives without realising that they are as reliable as those we see re Scottish indpendence itself

      This really matters: if we want a social democracy (as I believe many do) we cannot continue to allow the plutocrats to frame the agenda and to provide false narratives which serve their own interests. We need to be a lot more sceptical than that

    52. Grouse Beater says:

      How dare GB spout to the pensioners of Scotland that their pensions will be greatly affected if Scotland votes for Independence

      What is more annoying is that he has the ability to make the case for Scotland. Instead he waffles on as the self-appointed keeper of the keys to independence.

      Brown used to believe an autonomous Scotland could deliver genuine social equality and he was not scared about it: Hapless Gordon essay on: grousebeater-wordpress

    53. Grouse Beater says:


      What I am saying is…

      Probably the same as I am saying – he embraced USA shock economics from the brutal school of Friedman ideology, never questioning the disaster that would result.

      Instead here he is telling us our democratic freedoms are better curtailed. And I should be grateful? At least he is chancellor no longer.

      As Americans say, never give a sucker an even break.

    54. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I don’t look forward to the level of my state pension. How the hell do people survive on it as their only source of income?”

      Well, it’s still 60% more than the unemployed have to get by on, and they don’t get winter fuel allowance and free bus travel.

    55. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      Grouse Beater! There’s a preview box below the comments box for a fricking REASON.

    56. Les Wilson says:

      The pension scheme thing was just one item, he was FAMOUS for his stealth taxes, some applicable way into the future.
      I called him the ” pickpocket “, not without reason.
      So he has much more to be remembered for.

    57. handclapping says:

      @Fiona, Grouse Beater et al
      This whole subject is a minefield. It is not for nothing that the saying is 2 actuaries at least 3 opinions. I was a pension trustee and have almost incomprehensible tomes on my bookshelf to prove I tried to find out. The best answer I can give is that the situation built up from the 1970s through the incompetence of Government and the impotence of opposition in the Westminster system. The cure is to abandon the Westminster system by voting Yes.

      The last word is probably best left to another Kirkcaldy man
      The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

      The Wealth Of Nations, Book IV, Chapter II.

    58. handclapping says:

      @Major B
      Standard Life know nothing about pensions, however if you had said Scottish Widows … 🙂

    59. Ian Brotherhood says:

      ‘Scotland’s Vote’ – always worth a wee look…

    60. Grouse Beater says:

      There’s a preview box below the comments box

      In decending order:

      1. Submit Comment
      2. Notify me of follow-up comments by e-mail
      3. Notify me of new posts by e-mail.

      Now, there is one more box just about where you said it should be, but in my case it has a red “X” in it, probably signifying my equipment has a weak signal. Which it has in this concrete and metal building. What you can see ain’t always what others can see.

      I normally add that slash to stop italics but twice missed the slippery wee thing. Should have gone to Specsavers.

    61. Grouse Beater says:

      And would you believe it up pops the preview text! Magic. Many thanks, Stuart!

    62. nemo says:

      @Fiona, I had my own private pension which I paid into every year to provide for our retirement. Thanks to the withdrawal of ACT by Gordon Brown, the pension fund was much smaller than it would have been when I retired, giving a commensurately smaller annuity.

      Please do not insult me by telling me that this was not a raid on pensions. It was, and he knew it was but did not care.

    63. Grouse Beater says:

      @ Handclapping

      It is not for nothing that the saying is 2 actuaries at least 3 opinions.

      Agreed. And I enjoyed your Adam Smith quotation, a man whose thoughts and theories are steadily and readily stood on their head, deliberately misinterpretated to suit the neo-liberal doctrine.

    64. Juteman says:

      What is a pension?
      I’m in my 50’s, with no works pension. My endowment won’t pay off my mortgage.
      Thank fuck i’m Scottish, and will die before any of it matters.

    65. Les Wilson says:

      Sorry O/T
      I know some like to see this but tend to forget about it.

      Six Bookies now quoting 2/1

    66. Truth says:


      “Nobody objects if they deal with that problem through contributions holidays: though to say they had no choice is nonsense: because they could have achieved the same effect by giving the workers contributions holidays. We know this, for some few did do that: but the vast majority did not.”

      It may be a false recollection, but I seem to recall most private sector DB schemes were non-contributory from the member’s perspective. Really the only ones that weren’t were the unfunded public sector schemes, and clearly scrapping ACT had no effect there. Like I say I could be wrong on that, but there were certainly a great many non-contributory schemes.

      As for the rest, well, I’m afraid our politicians at all levels seem incapable of deciphering the law of unintended consequences.

      I put that down to the fact that they don’t put their hand in their pocket for anything. So the head of the local council that introduces charges for kerb side collections thinks everyone will pay up and not fly-tip, because he just calls his underlings and gets a freebie.

    67. Democracy Reborn says:

      I think we’re all agreed on one thing : Brown has ZERO credibility on pensions. How many ordinary voters are actually aware of his actions & their consequences? We should highlight it at every opportunity when canvassing, discussion with friends & colleagues who are undecided/no voters, & on social media.

    68. Grouse Beater says:


      Brown has ZERO credibility on pensions.

      It’s the same as his love-hate for Murdoch.

      One day partying with him, the next denouncing him from the back benches.

    69. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Pasted from WOS Twitter:

      ‘BBC journalists stand up to be counted…News staff at PQ will meet on Monday to debate the BBC membership of the partisan, discredited CBI.’ Derek Bateman

    70. Fiona says:

      @ nemo

      Why did the company, which no longer had to pay the ACT, not make its contributions gross of that sum? There would have been no shortfall if they had done that, would there?

    71. Murray McCallum says:

      Anyone taking financial advice from Gordon Brown should not be allowed a pension. They would probably not notice anyway.

      This article sums up the facts to match against the bluster of Brown.

    72. Fiona says:

      @ Truth.

      Civil service pension were non contributory. Other public service pensions were contributory as were most private pensions. If they were not so then there would be no argument here: because people would not consider themselves to have been paying into their pensions. So no, I do not think you are correct

    73. Molly says:

      There is I believe currently a bill at stage one going through Holyrood. This I think is the foundations for Revenue Scotland. I know John Swinney said at a debate, he wants this to be as robust as possible, so maybe some of you who are more business/ finance savvy should check that out

    74. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

      @RogueCoder says:
      Nicola just tweeted a pic of Yes Scotland shop in Stirling. Any Wingers with a few spare pennies in their pockets could really help out.


      I was in Stirling a few months ago at the weekend, and I spoke for a while to the YES guys who were set up in the pedestrianised area at the bottom on King Street.

      They have a lot to put up with there (Council, Armed Forces Day etc.), so having helped the YES guys in Pollok meet their target recently, Stirling seems like a good place for Wingers to help.

    75. Grouse Beater says:

      Re CBI fiasco, Cridland and MacMillan:

      Like many another, from the comfort of ye olde England, Scotland is but a short train journey away; arrive here and what a shock! It really is a different country.

      Apropos of lost in translation: When Billy Connolly was very funny, when his source of humour issued from his observations of his kith and kin, I sent one of his early videos to a friend in Banbury.

      He handed it back a week later.

      “I’m sorry. I can tell he is a very funny man but I can’t understand a word he’s saying.”

    76. Capella says:

      I’m with Fiona on this one. I agree that Brown is a waste of time as far as Indyref goes. He’s a Unionist through and through so anything he has to say is tainted. He also presided over the “light touch” City regime which resulted in the crash and biggest transfer of taxpayers’ money to the bonus-ridden private sector in history. But ending tax relief on dividends – are we really saying that shareholders should not pay tax on their unearned income? I don’t understand how this helps pensions unless you are saying that the dividends were always paid back into the fund rather than paid out as dividends?. More info needed.
      I agree also on not trusting the right wing media, as Chomsky advised.

    77. Famous15 says:


      You are correct in your description of what Brown and others did. However his closing a loophole (not a good word from the position of the now to be poorer pensioner) allowed employers to muddy the waters and the poor employee suffered again. Brown should have forbidden the actions employers took on pain of taxing their gain. He did not do this and from the employees position he applied a stealth tax.I know and you know but Brown’s clumsiness caused the sodding worker to suffer.

    78. Grouse Beater says:

      Well, it’s still 60% more than the unemployed have to get by on

      Unemployment? Intermittantly as a freelancer I don’t have work but I make sure I am employed one way or another. I stopped applying for benefit years ago when it all became too humiliating. Longest gap, two years. Uncertainty is what causes folk to stop suffering fools gladly.

    79. Truth says:


      Pensions funds hold shares.

      Those shares generate dividends which had tax deducted before payment to the pension scheme.

      Under the previous rules, the pension scheme could claim that tax back for the benefit of the scheme and it’s members. This is entirely right and just given that the income paid out to pensioners will be taxed again anyway. This arrangement merely delayed the collection of tax.

      Now what happens is those dividends are taxed, which cannot be reclaimed thereby reducing the income of the scheme and the benefits to members. Furthermore, the money is then taxed again when the pensioners are paid.

      Another side effect is that those on low incomes not paying any tax, but happen to still hold some shares will be paying tax on dividends which also cannot be reclaimed even if you are a zero rate tax payer.

    80. Fiona says:

      What is “entirely right” is that companies who did not now have to pay the ACT should have added that sum to the dividend paid. The pension schemes would have suffered no loss of income if they had done that.

    81. David Agnew says:

      Ahh UK labour – Westminsters Useful idiots in Scotland as there aren’t enough Lib dems to do it effectively.

      The W. E. Coyote of Scottish politics scaring pensioners whose pensions he stole from when in power. How did the Union ever last this long with this collection of arseholes in charge?

    82. schrodingers cat says:

      Nicola just tweeted a pic of Yes Scotland shop in Stirling. Any Wingers with a few spare pennies in their pockets could really help out.


    83. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

      Another polls boost for YES:


    84. mogabee says:

      Pensions damaged under Labour…check.

      Inequality increased under Labour…check.

      PFI exponentially increased under Labour…check.

      Lovely, just vote yes and get out from under that Labour…check!

    85. Capella says:

      @ Truth
      Thanks for the explanation. I was assuming the untaxed dividends were paid to other people or organisations holding shares in eg Standard Life etc. Didn’t see why they shouldn’t be taxed.

    86. Truth says:

      @Fiona 2:47

      But that is just like saying what is entirely right is that if Gordon Brown hadn’t taken the action he did, the pension schemes would not be worse off.

      If he couldn’t see the consequences of his actions he is to blame.

      It is no use blaming the snake for eating the mice, if you released the mice into the snake’s lair in the first place. Snakes will be snakes and companies will be companies.

    87. Fiona says:

      @ Truth

      I think you are misunderstanding my point

      I have already said that Mr Brown is culpable. He bought the plutocratic neoclassical analysis in toto. You translate that into a failure to recognise that snakes will be snakes and on that we are entirely agreed

      What I am trying to show is that the decision to destroy pensions was not his: that was the decision of the companies, and they were in no way forced. The solution is not to preserve tax free unearned income for the wealthy, as the only way of protecting the poor to a minimal extent: it is to construct your tax regime so that they are not able to eat the mice when you make them pay tax. The issue is about what we do if we win the vote: and adopting the plutocratic prescriptions is not the right answer. First we have to understand the actual problem: not the pretend one

    88. nemo says:

      @Fiona – having paid into a pension plan (Scottish Widows I may add) your comment regarding why the companies did not gross up their payments” sounds great on a bulletin board like this. In reality, you pay into the plan, and the provider, Scottish Widows in this case, manages the fund. So now you are blaming the companies who were selected by Scottish Widows for not increasing dividends because ACT was no longer due? I think you need to revisit your logic. Even if they had paid dividends grossed up, then what about the people NOT in a plan, but ordinary shareholders. Do they get the grossed up or not?

      The fact is, that what was a pensions benefit, was taken away by Brown, and now we see just how large the benefit was to the treasury. And yes, pensioners like me did suffer. So please, less of the smokescreen, Brown did the dirty on many pensioners and knowingly so.

    89. norrie says:

      Thanks to all the contributors to the pensions debate, while not yet “wise” I am wiser than I was.

    90. nemo says:

      Re above post – because ACT was now due?

    91. K1 says:


      Brilliant! Lol

    92. Truth says:


      You say “The solution…is to construct your tax regime so that they are not able to eat the mice when you make them pay tax”

      Indeed, it was GB in charge of the tax regime not the companies.

      I do accept that the companies destroyed these pension schemes. However, they were given an incentivised to do so by GB. It is that simple for me. What is worse is it was entirely predictable that his actions would incentivise such behaviour.

    93. john king says:

      Your looking different today,
      have you done something with your hair or something?
      lookin good my man 🙂

    94. K1 says:


      Ditto. Especially Fiona, much appreciate your contributions, articulate, informed and insightful. Always helpful.

    95. Clootie says:


      I’m sorry you are right and wrong.

      Companies and Directors did benefit from the system. However a great deal of people gained from these pension schemes. His raid did result in a significant number of people in the private sector losing their final salary schemes. The main reason shareholders simply said it is no longer to our benefit and we want a higher dividend. It is shareholders who drive this type of change (often a few greedy people but not always the company management).

      Could Brown have structured this change differently / phased it in / added protection for employees. The answer is YES if he had just consulted but his arrogance and a quick fix to a financial gap made him act as he did.

      He did raid the pension system and it did hurt working people and their long term security.

    96. Grouse Beater says:

      I understand why Salmond recommends a cut in company tax, an incentive to attract new businesses to Scotland, but in that policy his economic advisers are not wholeheartedly in accord, not as a short-term “benefit.”

      Then again, regaining independence is radical enough as a first step … effort dedicated to convincing the majority of the people the alternative is unacceptable. After that, we can argue policies and doctrines.

      Even Chomsky supports us, his intuition telling him the fight to secure democratic rights is less ungainly nationalism, more regaining the structures of social equality.

    97. Maid_in_Scotland says:

      I am not an economic guru but I am inclined to agree with Fiona’s view regards the taxing of dividends, and I certainly concur with her earlier post about the notorious lack of willingness to invest by British companies which is what, in my view led to the awful situation we ended up with in the 1970’s (leading to M Thatcher) – coupled with the intransigence of unions to accept any kind of change. (I lived through those days so can vouch for them.) Although the trade union movement may have moved on a bit, I don’t think British industry’s attitude has changed greatly. Too many accountants in charge and Britain lives in the past.

      However, back to pensions, I still have the letter from ‘The Pru’ dated 10 Feb 1998 informing me that as a result of Government changes announced on 2 July 1997, it was likely that future investment returns would be slightly lower than they otherwise would have been. This was a private pension I took out in the mid-80’s because my employer refused to have a company scheme. In 1998 I was paying about 10% of my small salary into this and could not afford to increase my own payments as I had a mortgage too.

      This pension now gives me about £27 per week, and I pay tax on it at 20% because of my state pension and one other small pension of about £30 per week on which I also pay tax. I am not complaining. I manage fine. But how I wish I lived in a country which had some real feel for the future and in which business and people could thrive and feel confident and upbeat. All this negativity from the unionists really gets me down. I want to be a ‘happy old soul’. Tell me Scotland can do it!

    98. Nobby Power says:

      Fascinating debate on pensions. I’m inclined to believe that Broon had the city whispering in his ear the whole time, and simply turned a blind eye, whenever it was needed. The city could only ever behave in the way one would expect, and he would’ve known that.

      He sold his soul to them for a rosy future, regardless of what ours would look like.

    99. Hardin says:

      Donated to Yes Stirling indiegogo too.

    100. Fiona says:

      @ Nemo

      Once again this site has not let me post a reply. So I have put it here

    101. Fiona says:

      @ Nobby Power

      Yes he listened to the city and the other plutocrats, including their academic figleaves in the economics profession

      Where I think you are wrong is in imagining that he did this for personal gain. I think, quite simply, he believed the mainstream theory. In this he was wrong, and quite culpably wrong. But he was not in any sense unusual – that theory is pervasive and it is harming each and every one of us

      I think Mr Brown still believes it: I think Mr Milliband believes it: I think even Mr Clegg believes it and I have my suspicions about Mr Salmond. I do not think IDS or Mr Osborne believe it: but it suits them to pretend that they do

      As I have said before, an unholy alliance between greedy cynics and useful idiots, have brought us to where we are today. Undoing the damage is not going to be easy, but we do at least need to analyse what is being promoted as truth and to decide what of that we can actually accept. It is really hard to do this because they make it deliberately opaque. But we are lost if we do not start to address this in advance of decision making power

    102. Andy-B says:

      Along with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, reminds me of Jean Baptist Carrier, if the noyades could have gotten away with drowning pensioners wholesale they would have done so.

    103. Proud Cybernat says:

      Upon indy, will Gordon Brown lose that annual £115k bonus just for being an ex UK Prime Minister? Talk about vested interests!

    104. Capella says:

      Thanks again to Fiona et al for explaining so much of this pensions mess. This issue really needs to be clarified because I doubt that many of us have a clear grasp of what is going on and I agree it is essential that we start off with some reliable information on which to make decisions. For example, a clause in the new constitution needs to deal with the right to basic living standards for all.

    105. Croompenstein says:

      @john king@3.33 – LOL.. that’s my uncle Frankie john. He’s not a bad sort keeps harping oan aboot an old blin guy in the woods who helped him oot when he wiz at a low ebb. Had a bride once but she was a bit of a howler and had mental hair, just thought I’d honour ma uncle wae his coupon on WoS. 🙂

    106. Robert Peffers says:

      @Fiona: First of all not all Civil Service Pension schemes are non-contributary by the employees. I was an industrial Civil Servant for over 50years and paid pension contributions.

      Furthermore, for several decades, I was a Union Steward and can assure you in “EVERY”, annual wage negotiations the total percentage wage claim was reduced by a margin to compensate the official side for their contribution to the pension scheme.

      Thus the emplyees were also contributing, by default, to the governments contribution to the pension scheme by getting a smaller pay increment.

    107. Robert Peffers says:

      @Grouse Beater: “I’m sorry. I can tell he is a very funny man but I can’t understand a word he’s saying.”

      Quite true that they make such claims. Strange thing is they never seem to complain they need traslations for Geordies. Nor do they complain about Cornwall, Devon, Somerset or Cockney accents.

      It’s a bit like the Englanders racist jibes about Africans, Asians, Etc. “They all look the same to me”.

      Think about it – Englanders have a derogatory name for most non-Englanders – Jocks, Paddies, Micks, Taffies, Geordies, Spicks, Greasers, WOGS, WOPS, Ragheads, Yanks, Frogs, Huns, Diggers, the list is endless. Now can you tell me the derogatory term used by Scots for the English? I can’t think of one offhand.

    108. Alan Mackintosh says:

      Robert Peffers, Soothmoothers would be one, but I guess it all depends on how far north you bide!

    109. jon esquierdo says:

      Gordon Brown has pooches bigger than Coco the clown and is stuffing them foo with tax payers money and the money he is taking out of his so called charity The office of gordon and sarah brown which in my opinion is a tax scam

    110. Fiona says:

      @ Robert Peffers.

      I have to confess that I had real difficulty understanding people from South London when I was there: and I also had problems understanding very strongly accented Aberdonina when I was there. I think I just don’t have a very good ear for language.

      Geordies are English, btw. And I know some people from Liverpool say that other regions complain about their accent too.

      Really not sure this is peculiarly about scottish speech (though i think Billy Connolly is very clear, I have to say)

      I do agree about the lack of such derogatory terms the other way, though. I suspect it is the more powerful group which do this to what they perceive to be outsiders. Maybe?

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