Facing many grey areas (Dorothy Harcus)

If you are acutely aware of the weary issue of independence and lengthy epistles, please take time to read this.

A former shipmate from Holland moved to England in the 1960s. He applied for British citizenship and this was granted in 1989.

For Pietur, this was a major decision. After an absence of 15 years, he returned recently, bringing his wife. They set up home just north of the border.

Grey areas that now face them are:
• Whether to stay British or become Scottish should there be a yes vote.
• If he becomes Scottish, what will happen to his state pension and how will its future value change in relation to the British state pension?
• Would he be allowed to remain British?
• What would happen to his NHS status; which country will pay his medical expenses?
• Would he be able to vote?

The answers to these questions concern us all, in particular, obviously, any English-born people now domiciled here.

What about those born here like this family’s offspring, who now live elsewhere? Are they allowed to choose, Scottish or British, and what implications for each?

The family has used a Scottish bank and wonder if after a “yes” vote their money would be guaranteed as at present by the government of UK? Would it be moved all to an English-based bank.

At present when a family member flies in to a Scottish airport from Holland or France, it is obligatory to show one’s passport.

Should an independent Scotland join the EU it will have to honour the Schengen agreement, we are asked to understand, which means there ought not to be borders between EU countries.

That would mean when flying between Amsterdam or Paris to Edinburgh, no show of passport would be necessary.

However, after arriving by air from those countries into London, passports will need to be shown at the UK border, just as at present.

UK border checks are made for good reasons. For this reason, should persons who live close to the border wish to take advantage of a supermarket on the English side they will  require to produce their passports.

Finally, if Scotland votes “yes” (and God forbid it) and goes on to join the EU, will the Scots be given an in or out vote as our English or Welsh neighbours may get. Or will we simply have to accept what Earl Alick decides is best for us.

We should be truly thankful to our educators for the sensible attitudes of (at least) wir Shetland students.

Dorothy Harcus
Symbister,
Whalsay.

15 comments

  1. Charlie Banham - Cullivoe

    With all due respect Dorothy, your concerns regarding the UK State Pensions are no longer valid – the UK Pensions Service recently conformed that anyone, in fact everyone no matter where they are now domiciled on this planet are entitled to, and will receive their UK State Pension – the entitlement of each person will solely depend on their total National Insurance contributions paid from their UK earnings while they lived in the UK. – (this also applies to all who hold a EU passport who have worked and paid NI in the UK – whether or not they are now living elsewhere)

    So the UK government are required by LAW to fulfil this obligation – as they already do to literally thousands of ‘expats’ living overseas – this is done as a matter of course – and is paid directly to them in £Sterling, most often into their local bank account( I have friends in this situation who bank at HSBC, which being ‘The Worlds Local Bank’ does not charge for converting Sterling to the local currency.

    To be honest, I am not sure what happens after Independence to those Scottish pensioners now receiving UK Pension credit, although I believe that the Scottish Government will make up the difference to those that are eligible.

    As to which country will pay the UK pension entitlement to those living in an Independent Scotland has yet to be clarified by both governments – so that is purely logistics and will be sorted through negotiations to take place between Sept 19 and March 2016 – before Scottish Independence. Bottom line is Dorothy you and I WILL get our UK State Pension – most likely in £Sterling.

    As far as your concerns regarding border controls, you are not alone in this regard, but it is clear that, valid or not, the UK government is the one taking a hard line on this matter (no surprise there!) hopefully some common sense will prevail to allow people from both sides of what has always been a open border to travel as freely as they always have

    Your concern regarding EU membership is quite interesting in that we presently have (hopefully not for long) a prime minster who does NOT want the UK to leave the EU – He has repeatedly stated that he will vigorously campaign to that end.
    And yet, now he is ‘allowing’ (how nice of him!) the people of the UK (rUK perhaps?) an in or out EU vote in 2017 – which is nothing but pandering to the far right-wing anti- immigration UKIP type ‘nutters’ that are already fuelling discontent throughout the nation. Cameron’s tactics are to get the voters onside – to let them think that their opinions count – a far cry from what he has been doing for the past 4 years – when he has blatantly imposed even more hardship on the poor, whilst still, after what they did in virtually bankrupting the UK, allowing the investment banking sector to thrive, and avoid personal prosecution. Truly shameful

    Earl Alex you call him? – the referendum is NOT about Alex Salmond – it is about the future of Scotland and it’s people, – there will be a Scottish General Election in May 2016 so Alex Salmond may not even be elected to lead an Independent Scotland Dorothy, vote yes or no – your choice, but please keep your comments on topic

    Reply
  2. Kathy Greaves

    Charlie, you say that the referendum, Yes or No, is not about Alex Salmond. Well, until he came up with his empire-building plan in recent years I had not heard one single person in Shetland or on the mainland of Scotland talk about wanting an independent Scotland. The last time I was aware of it being aired, here in Shetland anyway – on the news, was way back in 1978.

    Sorry, but I do think that he would like to go down in history as ……………

    And while the subject is freshly in the news, should (heaven forbid) Scotland vote for independence from the rest of the UK, I think that wee Eck will happily see Shetland as a ‘cash cow’ for wind energy feeding the mainland of Scotland, and soon have Shetland covered with giant wind generators.

    Reply
  3. Brian Smith

    My experience is that people who write to the media with all sorts of problems about independence aren’t trying to find the answers.

    Reply
    • Gordon Harmer

      That’s probably because you have no experience, the odd contribution of one line sarcasm does not make you an expert on people who write to the media. Most people who write with problems about independence have researched what they are talking about and found those problems. They then present them as facts and people on your side of the fence do not like the answers because they show how weak the independence cause is. Maybe you should write an essay on the positive facts for independence and lets see who does do a Stuart Hill on you to prove you wrong.

      Reply
  4. Johan Adamson

    It’s a very negative campaign the NOs are running. It kinda goes like this – we are lowly Scots, we dont have the money, we cant possibly go it alone, we cant organise ourselves to get a borders agency, pension and tax regime, an NHS etc. It does take a bit of a leap of faith to believe that there can and will be independence.

    We do need to be in a union for trade reasons, that’s why the EC was set up, so we would be a separate country, but in a union with the rest of Europe – we don’t need a union with GB and also in the EC? In any event, with a Yes vote it will be what we choose to make of it. And no other nation has ever refused independence when given the chance.

    I have a problem now in voting yes though. I am not in favour of Viking Energy’s giant windfarm. If I vote for independence, does that give the SNP carte blanche to do what they wish with these unwanted turbines?

    Reply
  5. ian tinkler

    In reply to Johan and for all Shetland to ponder, Viking Wind farm is very much part of the SNPs agenda of “being The power house of Europe”. This policy has nothing whatsoever to do with CO2 emissions and climate change, but everything to do with Salmond’s grab for power and a few people quest for money. The wholesale industrialisation of Shetland and its waters (1000 square miles plus planed so far are beginning to appear a real prospect) Anyone whom doubts this should read “Five sites identified around Shetland for possible offshore wind farm development, Shetland Times, 27/05/2011″. Not only will our own islands become an industrial site to match Grangemouth in concrete and steel but huge swathes of oceans and seascape. The sad truth of all this has no new jobs for Shetland folk . Our education is concentrated on the Creative Arts, the power industry will want technical skills, (math’s, science, engineering), the laboring jobs will be well catered for by the Total Gas plant contractors. Wake up Shetland, some of you are behaving like a man up a tree, sawing of the branch he is sitting on!
    reference: http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2011/05/27/five-sites-identified-around-shetland-for-possible-offshore-windfarm-development/.

    Reply
  6. Colin Hunter

    It both amuses and dismays me at the same time that people should personally attack Alex Salmond (Or anyone for that matter) in letters to the press when debating Scottish Independence. It was always the Raison d’etre for the SNP (the clue is in the name) from it’s formation in 1934, some 20 years before he was even born. I can remember a family friend in Unst in the ’60s when I was a little boy, talking about the SNP and Scottish independence. It is not a new thing and all that Eck has done is exactly what they said they would do if they ever had the power to do so. The Scottish people gave them that power in a Democratic vote when they were re-elected in a landslide victory for a second term in Holyrood.
    As far as I’m concerned the referendum is a “no brainer” as I have been of the opinion that Scotland should be a country in its own right for more years than I care to remember. It also amuses and dismays me that is seems to be elderly people who are the most vociferously opposed to it, for the very reason that you cite, “Who will pay MY pension?” As Charlie says, would you have the same concerns if you lived in Spain, as many, many UK pensioners do, and continued to receive your pension straight into your bank account?
    This is not about us, the older people anyway, it is about the future of Scotland (and Shetland) and our children, grand children and great grand children, when we are long gone. I truly believe that they will have a much better chance in a country that is not blighted by an indifferent, ignorant and archaic administration in Westminster.
    As for Alex Salmond, our First Minister, If you look him up on Wickipedia you will find that he has had an extensive career in Banking and Politics and is a Visiting Professor of Economics at Strathclyde University. The very kind of person we need in Government, rather than the stuffed shirt Tory “Bullington Boys” we seem to have been landed with.
    The choice is yours!

    Reply
    • Dave Cooper

      Good to see that you put so much store in the Alex Salmond entry on Wikipedia. The controversies section of the entry is quite interesting & may give pointers as to the chaps character.

      Reply
  7. Colin Hunter

    If any of us were important enough to warrant an entry in Wickipedia, I have no doubt there would also be skeletons in the closet. A photograph of Nigel Farage sporting a multi coloured mohican and giving a ribald sign to a Bobby recently appeared on Facebook. Apparently he’s unhappy about it. Funny that! Our pasts all come back to haunt us. What is important is the person we are now.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      yun photo o da punk is a fake Colin, an likly da best dae could come up we ta smear da man we. But ask ony body fae da NE o scotland dat wis involved we politics whit Salmond wis/is lik an du will hae de een opened.

      Reply
  8. Brian Smith

    Every now and then I see an agonised letter on this site where unionists ask about the financial consequences of a Yes vote.

    May I recommend the excellent recent book by Gavin McCrone, Scottish Independence, weighing up the economics? It gets to grips with all the questions posed.

    I hope I don’t get a volley of abuse …

    Reply
    • Gordon Harmer

      Live by the sword die by the sword;

      Your comment on another web site Brian!

      “Seriously, I welcome the periodical foaming at the mouth about the referendum by commentators like Tinkler and Tom Morton”.

      Reply
  9. peter smith

    Interesting that Colin thinks its mostly ‘elderly people’ who are opposed because of pension worries. I’m not far from my pension , and not worried as its one of the few answers that is clear and unequivocal. What I am worried about is my children’s pension. Both in their 20′s, they will not get it paid by the UK gov if we vote yes.

    But I suppose I should not worry. It will be as everything else in the tartan utopia, better than it is now.

    Unfortunately, heading towards being an elderly person, life experience tells me that “it’ll all be jam tomorrow” just isn’t true.

    Reply
  10. Michael Garriock

    “yun photo o da punk is a fake Colin, an likly da best dae could come up we ta smear da man we”.

    I hope no. If somebody had the wit to waste some of their mis-spent youth as a punk, its the best recommendation anybody could have to run the country in later life. Whit politics needs is somebody willin ta raise stoor, no get wi da program.

    Reply
  11. Colin Hunter

    Seeing as how the UK Pension provision is one of the poorest in the EU, from a country that’s supposed to be well off, I don’t think Scotland could actually do any worse. They don’t have a lot to beat, do they? Just remember it was the “New Labour” (Read thinly disguised Tory) Chancellor Gordon Brown who imposed taxation on company pension schemes and effectively ended the provision of the gilt edged final salary pension in the private sector. I wonder if our own Scottish Government would have imposed such a tax had they had the power to do so, or not, as the case might be. The only way to truly know what they would or would not tax, is to give them the chance. After all, as I said, I don’t think it’s possible for them to do any worse by their pensioners!

    Reply

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