Nicola Sturgeon , Scotland and pensions



I watched Nicola Sturgeon announce she would be resigning as First Minister in Hymans Robertson’s offices in London. It seemed fitting that a Scottish organisation doing very well in the UK provided the news feed.

It was hard not to be impressed by Sturgeon who managed to appeal to our hearts and minds with a mix of politics and humanity.  I suspect her speech will be best remembered for her statement

“I am a human”

Of course her politics have not been those of integration and had Scotland had its independence in her time as First Minister, the outlook for Scottish pensioners and the Scottish pensions industry would have been quite different.

As with Brexit, we can’t be certain of the counterfactual but I suspect that few in the Scottish Financial Services sector were for breaking the union.

But I do not want to sound triumphal – half of the Scottish people remain wanting independence and to maintain that support for so long is an achievement that both Sturgeon and her party should be proud of.

Sturgeon has shown an example to political leaders in Westminster over her time as First Minister, I have often felt envious of her leadership. Scottish politics has been consistent and clear – we know what Sturgeon and her party stand for and we have admired the way she and the SNP have conducted themselves.

But looking to the future, it is hard to think that another Nicola Sturgeon of Alex Salmond will provide the political continuity that Scotland has enjoyed over the past 20 years.  Though the two leaders have gone in separate directions of late, the direction of travel for Scottish politics has remained constant, what has not been constant is the momentum behind independence which has stalled.

Sitting in the offices of one of Britain’s largest independent actuarial consultancies, I felt both sorry for Sturgeon, worn down as she seems by her struggle and hopeful for Scotland, which might be able to move beyond the narrow confines of national politics and renew its interest in what’s going on in Westminster.

We had and have in Gregg McClymont, a man from Cumbernauld who  built his career first in an English University and then in the parliament of the United Kingdom. His dislike of Scottish Nationalism is understandable – but it does not spring from self-interest, he had a brief spell working for Aberdeen Asset Management but he does not play the Scottish card. I take my line on Scottish politics from Gregg, whose dignity in defeat at the 2016 election has continued in the years that have followed.

My hope is that those friends I have like Gregg and my Scottish colleagues working in pensions , will find it easier now to work together. Just as in pensions , so in banking and fund management  there are strong ties throughout financial services that have been strained by separatism.

With great respect to Nicola Sturgeon, I am glad we are as one Kingdom, united by ties of language, geography and history. We are also united by a common way of saving for and paying for pensions and I hope that Nicola Sturgeon stepping back , will ensure things stay that way.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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