Pensions Action Group

9th May 2005

Pat Sargent, who bravely stood against Gordon Brown in the general election, made the following statement which she used as the basis of her post-election speech:

Pat Sargent, (a wife, mother, grandma, worker, saver and now campaigner) is truly sorry that she must challenge Gordon Brown before his electorate in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, on the single issue of workers' destroyed pensions.
Questioning Gordon’s current inadequate ‘assistance’ proposals for pensioners, Pat is an independent, non party-political candidate - as she knows that, for the tens of thousands of families affected (including her and husband Keith's), this issue really is beyond politics. It deserves true cross-party support to finally resolve it. 
Though she's unfortunately constrained by time and distance, the recent inspiration for her stand has been the plight of some of the Pensions Action Group’s widows, as well as witnessing a terminally ill, courageous fellow-campaigner still having to plead with the Government for his stolen pension rights.
Gordon Brown speaks with conviction of his vision for those who work hard and ‘play by the rules’. We all played by the rules that Gordon set, and have found ourselves without the pensions we were told were safe and protected by law. At last year’s Party Conference he himself acknowledged that our plight was "simply wrong", and promised to “work with the unions to do what it takes to tackle the gross injustice of workers who through no fault of their own find their pensions have been destroyed.”
Fine words, but to date the Financial ‘Assistance’ Scheme (FAS) fund he had already made available is now proposed to be divided between just a small proportion of the affected families. The FAS doesn't have anywhere near enough money made available to it, and is certainly not the ‘justice for all’ his speech proclaimed.
So, we must again ask you, Gordon, to check your calculations. With over 80,000 loyal, hard-working British workers in more than 400 companies seriously affected, including. UEF, Albert Fisher, Blyth & Blyth, Motherwell Bridge, Richards, Dexion, ASW, BUSM, Kalamazoo, Samuel Jones…, why have you left so many out of your plans? The £20m per year, even with a promised review, will hardly begin to restore the hard-earned pensions of even the few - and what about all the rest, Gordon?
Why are you still insistent that our scheme funds’ remaining assets be so scandalously wasted buying expensive annuities, instead of being ‘pooled’ and pensions paid, as per the new Pension Protection Fund (PPF) - which our campaigning helped create?
Above all, why weren’t such pensions safe and protected by law, as we were told they were? We now understand that the actuarial profession warned in July 1997 that, “Members could be lulled into a false sense of security thinking their fund was 100% funded when it could actually be considerably less than that.” This, post your tax changes, Gordon, but clearly before the major stock market falls, annuity rate issues and your relaxation of the 1995 Act’s centrepiece solvency test, the MFR. Sometimes there’s been no pension at all! 

Why weren’t workers warned, Gordon?

Commenting further on her experiences canvassing Pat also stated:
Of our necessarily brief stay in the Fife constituency we are pleased on how our faith in human nature has been much restored. "If the wonderful, warm, open people we've met and discussed this issue with are at all representative of the constituency, we couldn’t have chosen a better spot to attempt to pin Gordon down. This constituency must truly be a pleasure to serve."

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Pat Sargent's Post Election Campaign notes

Although still to cash some of the cheques, having now received the final donations towards election expenses, I just wanted to summarise these for everyone's benefit, and to say an immense 'THANK YOU'.
Having dealt with the necessary formal Return, and with (hopefully) due respect for everyone's privacy, I'm so grateful to be able to report that a total of £1,090.00 was received via the Group / associated contacts; enabling not only the forfeited £500.00 deposit to be paid, but also a substantial contribution (£404.00) to be made towards the travel and overnight costs of fellow Kirkcaldy 'volunteers' - our additional costs being substantially met through a local 'whip-round' which raised a further £325.00! 
Most importantly, though, I'd like to thank those who've shown such inspirational generosity of spirit during such difficult times for us all. Again, I wish to respect people's privacy, but have been affected by much recently (as those close to me already know)... For example, the many 'unsung heroes'; some of whom we've never even met, and who physically can't attend protests / meetings or afford much - but wished, nevertheless, to help... the brave souls whom we've been proud to meet and protest alongside, some of whom are already widowed - yet still find strength... and the oh so courageous couple whose abiding strength of character helped me find the determination to at least 'have a go'... Good, good people, whose futures I for one intend to continue to work with others to help secure - reminding Gordon Brown, in his own words, that our plight is "simply wrong" - a "gross injustice", and must be corrected!     
Should you be able to help with this latter, a sample letter to MPs generally has been drafted, echoing our Kirkcaldy call for him to act - now - and it's intended to urgently circulate this as widely as possible. You might also be able to help in other ways. Please make yourselves known to the Group if you can help.
Apart from an Agents' / Party 'de-brief' in Glenrothes; our plight will be further recorded for posterity, as all candidates who produced and distributed specific material, i.e. our leaflet, 'speech', extended 'statement', etc. have been invited to contribute same to long-standing official collections, both for preservation and use by media, researchers, etc. (Good job we 'kept' some spares...!)

Thanks again.


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