They are unlikely to be affected by the changes.
I have to say that Michelle Ballantyne’s speech was a disgrace. She should have turned around and faced the gallery.
The subject is yet another example of how Westminster simply does not work for Scotland. The vast majority of MSPs and Scottish MPs oppose the strategy that the UK Government has adopted and the devastating impact that it is having on women up and down the UK. Like other members, I have been contacted by countless women in my constituency who have told me how big the impact of the decision has been on them and their families. Long-made plans for retirement have been thrown into the air by the heartless Tory party.
I believe that there is a consensus in support of equalising the retirement age for men and women. We have heard that from almost every member in the debate. However, it has to be done in a sensible and fair way. Simply to dictate to women a couple of years before they retire that they will need to work on for several years more is just not good enough. That is why I support the calls for a bridging pension and compensation.
Last year, I was privileged to speak at the Lanarkshire WASPI event in Coatbridge alongside the local MP—Labour’s Hugh Gaffney. On issues of such importance that span the country, party allegiances should be put to one side. All of us should stand four square behind the women who are affected by the changes. Some of the stories that we heard that day were absolutely heartbreaking. I was going to give specific examples, but many have been adequately covered by other members. Women have had to put their plans on hold: holidays, dreams of a lifetime and plans for children and grandchildren have been put on hold, there has been financial hardship and much more. It is absolutely heartbreaking.
Another issue that came out at the event was the importance of men also fighting the injustice, which was something that I had not thought about prior to the meeting. We have rightly talked about the women in the gallery: I note that there are a couple of men there, too. Women at the event said that the policy is an injustice for everybody, so we all need to fight it. That is why I am glad that there is cross-party support and that lots of male MSPs have spoken.
The situation is a national scandal involving blatant discrimination and injustice. The policy is misogynistic and includes gender and age discrimination. The Tories thought that they could get away with it, but they have had a bit of a shock, have they not? The WASPI campaign is to be commended for how it has conducted itself. The women should be paid what they are due. Support the WASPI campaign.