By Stephen Noon
Gordon Brown is not a stupid man.  He knows that what he is saying today on pensions is nonsense and he has specifically selected his statistics to present a picture that is wildly far from reality.  That is a clear and deliberate choice. 

It is the cheapest sort of negative campaigning, twisting the truth with the sole aim of frightening people.

Mr Brown knows that pensions and benefits are paid out of general taxation and that national insurance contributions are just part of that mix and, yet, according to the New Statesman he will say today that Scotland "will increasingly benefit from a system under which it pays 8 per cent of national insurance contributions but receives 8.8 per cent of the benefits".

However, what Mr Brown knows is that Scotland's actual contribution, the total of all tax revenues, has been 9.5 per cent, on average, over the past 5 years.  So, rather than receiving 8.8 per cent of the benefits and contributing just 8 per cent, as Mr Brown appears to be claiming, we actually contribute 9.5 per cent.  He is trying to pretend that Scotland is dependent when the opposite, by far, is the case.

According to the reports in the media today, later in the speech he makes a similar point, this time suggesting that we can't afford our pensions and benefits payments because they equal 3 times oil revenues.  But again, he knows that these payments are made out of total revenues, otherwise the UK wouldn’t be able to afford its welfare system given that the costs for the UK as a whole are 25 times oil revenues.

It takes a particular mindset to try and pull this sort of political trick, especially as Mr Brown will know that the cost of welfare provision in Scotland takes up a smaller percentage of total tax revenues than in the rest of the UK.  The actual numbers show that 42% of Scotland's tax revenues were required to fund social protection (pensions and welfare spending) compared with 43% for the UK.  That means we are better able to afford to support the most vulnerable in society.

I can't help wondering, if the Union is so good, why do its supporters have to resort to such twisted claims based on a deliberate misrepresentation of the reality?  Mr Brown is trying to take advantage of the fact that some people may not know how the welfare and pensions systems are paid for. 

But, he does.  His misrepresentation, therefore, is jaw-dropping and ill-serves him.

At its root, Mr Brown wants us to believe two things.  First, that Scotland is not capable of affording to look after our pensioners and, second, that we should, instead, trust the Westminster Tories (at least half the time) with our pension.  He is absolutely wrong with the first, as demonstrated above, and spectacularly out of touch on the latter.

I believe most people in Scotland will trust our parliament - which introduced free personal care and the free bus pass - to do more to look out for and look after older Scots than Westminster.  We wouldn't waste billions on nuclear bombs while thousands of older Scots struggle to heat their homes.  Those are the priorities of a Westminster system that is badly and dangerously on the wrong track.

And yet, tonight Mr Brown won't have much to say (if anything) on the growing state of inequality.  Instead, he will base his case on a truly warped presentation of the numbers and a glib description of the status quo of George Osborne’s austerity agenda and welfare plundering as the 'best of both worlds'.

If this is the best the No campaign can do, they really are in trouble.

Courtesy of Stephen Noon
Stephen Noon is a member of Yes Scotland


# rabkae 2014-04-22 17:16
"Gordon Brown is not a stupid man."

If that be true, and I have my doubts, he obviously considers the rest of us to be so.

Pity he hadn't seen the headlines today before telling us our pensions are only secure in the UK...
# hektorsmum 2014-04-22 17:55
If Gordon Brown is not stupid and as I have commented else where, he has yet to prove it to me as I would have thought that an intelligent person would ask and take advice, but our Gordon knew everything and nothing. I would say the only pension he is at all worried about this evening is certainly not mine nor indeed my Husband's who is considerably poorer as a result of his actions as Chancellor and Prime Minister, but his own.
# joy scobby 2014-04-22 19:36
Joy Scobby says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
22 April, 2014 at 6:55 pm

RE National Insurance (NI) – what Brown is not admitting in all of this that whilst he was in charge of the book is that he raised national insurance and skimmed off it to pay for increased NHS funding ( no doubt not to NHS Scotland) Prior to this NI was, as far as I know, protected and ring fenced from its inception to pay for contributory benefits such as State Pension and Unemployment Benefit. Prior the NHS was funded from general taxation. At the time I wondered why no one else picked this up. This no doubt is still the case. Perhaps this needs further investigation.
# canuckistan 2014-04-22 19:45
These people, including Gordon, are not stupid. Morally and politically bankrupt, anti-democratic and totally irresponsible yes, but they know what they're doing. You can bet your kidneys that any number of shiny suited neocon strategic think tanks are carefully planning more of the big lie approach using pretty much every mainstream media channel to sow fear and uncertainty. I watched it happen in the States, to a lesser extent in Canada. What they are very very good at is to get the electorate to vote specifically against their best interests, and this is how they roll.
# bringiton 2014-04-22 23:21
Broon thinks he is a modern cool poltician by strutting the stage making pronouncements without the aid of a script or prompterand by so doing giving the impression of sincerity and integrity.
Unfortunately for him,life has moved on and people are more interested in what he has to say rather than how his message is delivered.
He has nothing to add to the Project Fear narrative and should return to his new day job as international emassador for failed politicians and phoney finance experts.
Yesterday's politicians have nothing to offer for our future other than the lessons we can learn from their failures.
# gus1940 2014-04-23 07:42
I see that he has adopted alleged comedian Michael McIntyre's tactic of walking backwards and forwards across the stage while spouting his lying scare story (Probably to avoid anything which might be thrown at him).

It's about as artificiial as the ludicrous forced smile which won him so much ridicule in 2010.
# Big Jim 2014-04-23 10:38
This morning showed two statements re pensioner credits and pensioner disability benefits to my 75 yr old wife and my two grandsons (16 &13 yr olds) and asked them to do the maths. None of them took more than 3 mins to spot the inconsistencies in the figures.

What was more interesting was their answers to my question: "How could this be and who could have made such an error?"

My wife (a retired teacher) said quite simply: "someone who can't count"

My 16 yr old grandson, sitting higher maths in a few weeks offered: "a crook?"

My 13 yr old grandson was more nuanced and commented: "must have been a politician"

None of them was given the background to the statements on pensioner credits and pensioner disability benefits and were all shocked to learn that these statements had been made by a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and UK Prime Minister.


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