A SHETLAND Islands Councillor has blamed local MP Alistair Carmichael for the pension age crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of women in the UK having to work extra years or claim universal credit.
Shetland Central councillor Ian Scott said that Carmichael, who was chief whip of the Lib Dems while the party was in power with the Conservatives at the time of the 2011 Pensions Act, must “rescind what he has done” and “apologise to pensioners”. The act enabled an acceleration of the programme to raise male and female pension ages to 66 by October 2020.
But Carmichael, who has since picked up the cudgels for the pensioners and held a public meeting in Islesburgh last month on the effect of the changes, said that it was well known ministers had been fed false information at the time of the pensions act and that Scott was motivated by political points scoring.
Carmichael said at the 11 January meeting that he had taken out a private pension in the 1980s when the Thatcher government loosened up rules on pension payments.
Speaking at a demonstration by the pensioners in Lerwick on Saturday, Scott launched a stinging attack on the man who has been MP for the Northern Isles since 2001.
He said: “The middle classes are fine, they have got their pensions and the state pension just comes along as a nice wee bonus at the end. So as working people we have to get together as a group and demand from Alastair Carmichael that he rescinds what he has done and apologises for his behaviour.
“He was the chief whip when it went through parliament and he was the leader of the Scottish Tories in Westminster. The Liberals went in with the Tories hook line and sinker and they are completely and utterly responsible.”
“As long as we in Shetland keep voting Liberal we are going to get nowhere.”
But Carmichael said on Tuesday that Scott had a “long track record of trying to use issues like this to make political points.”
He added: “If that’s the way he wants to do his politics that’s up to him. I’m not playing these games and have made my position perfectly clear.”
He challenged Scott to do something in practical terms for the pensioners’ cause and said that the fact that Scott had not attended the January meeting “tells you all you need to know” about his commitment.
Isles MP Alistair Carmichael is planning two further public meetings on the pension age changes. These will take place in Brae and in Lerwick either in late March or in April. Details will be advertised nearer the time.