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Webchat with Mhairi Black MP, Tuesday 12 January 11am-12pm

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BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 08-Jan-16 17:36:15

Hello

We’re pleased to announce that the SNP’s Mhairi Black MP will be joining us at MNHQ on Tuesday 12th January between 11am and 12 midday. She’d particularly like to talk about the ‘Women Against State Pension Inequality’ campaign - see below for more details on that.

Mhairi Black is SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South and is the current ‘Baby of the House’ - the youngest member of the House of Commons. After joining the SNP in 2011 Mhairi was elected at the age of 20 in the 2015 General Election, whilst completing her undergraduate degree in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow. Her maiden speech made headlines, partly for the rule-breaking applause which followed it.

In support of the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign, Mhairi secured a debate in the House of Commons on state pension age increases that some say discriminate against women born on or after 6th April 1951, calling the situation “grossly unfair”. The campaign is calling for the reversal of the decision to delay the retirement age for women born in 1953-1954 - you can read more about this here.

Please do join us on the day or leave a question here in advance - and as ever, please remember our Webchat Guidelines: one question per poster, and please do be polite.

Thanks
MNHQ

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:05:10

TresDesolee

Hi Mhairi. Can you sum up the pensions issue in one sentence? I've tried to get my head around it a couple of times but suspect that for those not directly affected it may seem a bit, uh, difficult to comprehend!

And, what's your favourite biscuit (sorry, someone's got to!)

Hi TresDesolee

To sum up, the Government's view of pensions is that they are a benefit when in actual fact they are a contract and to put it simply the Government has broken that contract.

My favourite biscuit is a Tunnocks caramel wafer.

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:08:40

RowanMumsnet

Some questions from Gransnetters for Mhairi:

1955 baby here who only realised five years ago that I was on a reduced stamp so my pension will be around £17 per week! This can t be adjusted by extra payments apparently. As the difference in payments is not huge, it would be nice to know what I was paying towards! I am lucky in that I have another pension but what happens to the women that don't? Surely there should be some form of making extra payments for the last ten years. Cambia

I would also like to thank Mhairi for having the courage and wisdom to make a stand to try and do something about this appalling inequality.
I am so angry at the way the Government is able to keep moving the goalposts. I have worked hard all my life and saved on the basis that I would retire at 60. And yet the goalposts have moved and moved and now I have to wait until I am 65. I do realise people are living longer and something needs to be done to reflect this but you cannot expect people to live a whole life according to one set of rules then have them changed at the last minute. We can't possibly make up the shortfall at this stage in our lives/jobs. And yet other friends get their pensions no problem.
We appreciate you speaking out for us and I would like to know if there are any other steps I can take - both for my own financial security and also to help you in what you are doing? NW950

But I struggled to get past the first point. "The Government did not write to any woman affected by the rise in pension ages for nearly 14 years after the law was passed in 1995."
How on earth can they get away with this? You can bet your bottom dollar that if it was men affected they never would have got away with it this long. sharky

I know that this was debated in the Commons for several hours last week and your motion was passed by 158 votes to zero. But the minister said that there will still be no change. This is ludicrous. Now what?
Thank you for fighting the fight. downthelane

But would like to raise another point about the continual increase of the retirement age which is that sometimes the work that you do makes it impossible to continue in a job even though you may wish to. As a nurse I have had to help move patients - often twice my body weight - for years and years and as a result now suffer from back problems which prevent me continuing in the role however much I might want to. So what am I supposed to do at 60 plus? Retrain? Even if I could afford it what's the point in spending a year training for a new career that will only last a couple of years? The government need to think about those of us who have done heavy work that cannot be sustained into later years. They also need to remember that unemployment is rife, particularly in the north where I live. So it is all very well telling me I need to work - and actually I would like to work - but where am I meant to find a job when I have spent the best part of 40 years doing something I can no longer do? yezle

My husband and I are both retired and spend a lot of our time helping out at local charities and organisations that do a huge amount of good in the community but would never survive without volunteers like us. Had I been born a year later we would not have been able to do all this and it made me think about the what ifs and how these changes are going to deprive so many organisations of the people who keep them going. Or as we are all meant to be living longer are the government assuming that we can do this sort of thing in our 70s and 80s instead? mrshm

Mhairi, I'm ashamed to say that when you were elected, I wondered how someone so young would cope as an MP. You have proved to be a force in UK politics, and a very honourable woman. Thank you so much for taking up the fight on behalf of us WASPI women. Could I ask what influenced you to make this one of your battles? Maggiemaybe

Hi sharky

You are right in pointing out the absolute mess that has been made of these women's pensions in the last few years. That's why we are calling for fairer transitional arrangements in order to combat the levels of inequality that women have exeperienced through their lives. The Government must now bring forward mitigation measures and we are asking for an independent pensions commission to look into the best solution for all pension issues.

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:12:17

RowanMumsnet

Some questions from Gransnetters for Mhairi:

1955 baby here who only realised five years ago that I was on a reduced stamp so my pension will be around £17 per week! This can t be adjusted by extra payments apparently. As the difference in payments is not huge, it would be nice to know what I was paying towards! I am lucky in that I have another pension but what happens to the women that don't? Surely there should be some form of making extra payments for the last ten years. Cambia

I would also like to thank Mhairi for having the courage and wisdom to make a stand to try and do something about this appalling inequality.
I am so angry at the way the Government is able to keep moving the goalposts. I have worked hard all my life and saved on the basis that I would retire at 60. And yet the goalposts have moved and moved and now I have to wait until I am 65. I do realise people are living longer and something needs to be done to reflect this but you cannot expect people to live a whole life according to one set of rules then have them changed at the last minute. We can't possibly make up the shortfall at this stage in our lives/jobs. And yet other friends get their pensions no problem.
We appreciate you speaking out for us and I would like to know if there are any other steps I can take - both for my own financial security and also to help you in what you are doing? NW950

But I struggled to get past the first point. "The Government did not write to any woman affected by the rise in pension ages for nearly 14 years after the law was passed in 1995."
How on earth can they get away with this? You can bet your bottom dollar that if it was men affected they never would have got away with it this long. sharky

I know that this was debated in the Commons for several hours last week and your motion was passed by 158 votes to zero. But the minister said that there will still be no change. This is ludicrous. Now what?
Thank you for fighting the fight. downthelane

But would like to raise another point about the continual increase of the retirement age which is that sometimes the work that you do makes it impossible to continue in a job even though you may wish to. As a nurse I have had to help move patients - often twice my body weight - for years and years and as a result now suffer from back problems which prevent me continuing in the role however much I might want to. So what am I supposed to do at 60 plus? Retrain? Even if I could afford it what's the point in spending a year training for a new career that will only last a couple of years? The government need to think about those of us who have done heavy work that cannot be sustained into later years. They also need to remember that unemployment is rife, particularly in the north where I live. So it is all very well telling me I need to work - and actually I would like to work - but where am I meant to find a job when I have spent the best part of 40 years doing something I can no longer do? yezle

My husband and I are both retired and spend a lot of our time helping out at local charities and organisations that do a huge amount of good in the community but would never survive without volunteers like us. Had I been born a year later we would not have been able to do all this and it made me think about the what ifs and how these changes are going to deprive so many organisations of the people who keep them going. Or as we are all meant to be living longer are the government assuming that we can do this sort of thing in our 70s and 80s instead? mrshm

Mhairi, I'm ashamed to say that when you were elected, I wondered how someone so young would cope as an MP. You have proved to be a force in UK politics, and a very honourable woman. Thank you so much for taking up the fight on behalf of us WASPI women. Could I ask what influenced you to make this one of your battles? Maggiemaybe

Hi downthelane

I agree, that's ludicrous. It's bad enough that the Government benches were so empty for the whole debate but they also refused to even vote on the issue. What is the point of representing people if you won't even participate in an issue that affects as many constituents as this one? it was clear by the people that did vote that this is an issue that will not go away any time soon. That's precisely why the Government will have to act. My colleague Ian Blackford has written to the Secretary of State to highlight he hypocrisy of the Government and to ask them to take action.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 12-Jan-16 11:15:02

And another one from Gransnet:

I keep hearing that women's pensions have been put back by up 3 yrs but in reality they have gone back up 6 or 7 years, mine has gone back by 5 years and 7 months. I have friends who were in the same class as me at school but being 10 months older they get their pension more than 2 yrs 9 months before me!! whoever worked out the time table? I also hear a lot about women who have a small pension and maybe some savings to fall back on, but what about us women who have nothing? I have no income of any kind but because my husband is working part time i cant claim a penny from anywhere. I am very fortunate to have a husband who is willing to support me but at 68yrs old its not very fair that he has to. I am not fit enough to go to work but not disabled, i dont want to claim benefits, i want what is rightfully mine, what i have paid into and what i believed i would get at 60! I want my pension! bobcaz

5050parliament Tue 12-Jan-16 11:17:39

Great to have a young woman like Mhairi Black in Parliament standing up for women and speaking her mind. Need more like her.

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:19:06

RowanMumsnet

Some questions from Gransnetters for Mhairi:

1955 baby here who only realised five years ago that I was on a reduced stamp so my pension will be around £17 per week! This can t be adjusted by extra payments apparently. As the difference in payments is not huge, it would be nice to know what I was paying towards! I am lucky in that I have another pension but what happens to the women that don't? Surely there should be some form of making extra payments for the last ten years. Cambia

I would also like to thank Mhairi for having the courage and wisdom to make a stand to try and do something about this appalling inequality.
I am so angry at the way the Government is able to keep moving the goalposts. I have worked hard all my life and saved on the basis that I would retire at 60. And yet the goalposts have moved and moved and now I have to wait until I am 65. I do realise people are living longer and something needs to be done to reflect this but you cannot expect people to live a whole life according to one set of rules then have them changed at the last minute. We can't possibly make up the shortfall at this stage in our lives/jobs. And yet other friends get their pensions no problem.
We appreciate you speaking out for us and I would like to know if there are any other steps I can take - both for my own financial security and also to help you in what you are doing? NW950

But I struggled to get past the first point. "The Government did not write to any woman affected by the rise in pension ages for nearly 14 years after the law was passed in 1995."
How on earth can they get away with this? You can bet your bottom dollar that if it was men affected they never would have got away with it this long. sharky

I know that this was debated in the Commons for several hours last week and your motion was passed by 158 votes to zero. But the minister said that there will still be no change. This is ludicrous. Now what?
Thank you for fighting the fight. downthelane

But would like to raise another point about the continual increase of the retirement age which is that sometimes the work that you do makes it impossible to continue in a job even though you may wish to. As a nurse I have had to help move patients - often twice my body weight - for years and years and as a result now suffer from back problems which prevent me continuing in the role however much I might want to. So what am I supposed to do at 60 plus? Retrain? Even if I could afford it what's the point in spending a year training for a new career that will only last a couple of years? The government need to think about those of us who have done heavy work that cannot be sustained into later years. They also need to remember that unemployment is rife, particularly in the north where I live. So it is all very well telling me I need to work - and actually I would like to work - but where am I meant to find a job when I have spent the best part of 40 years doing something I can no longer do? yezle

My husband and I are both retired and spend a lot of our time helping out at local charities and organisations that do a huge amount of good in the community but would never survive without volunteers like us. Had I been born a year later we would not have been able to do all this and it made me think about the what ifs and how these changes are going to deprive so many organisations of the people who keep them going. Or as we are all meant to be living longer are the government assuming that we can do this sort of thing in our 70s and 80s instead? mrshm

Mhairi, I'm ashamed to say that when you were elected, I wondered how someone so young would cope as an MP. You have proved to be a force in UK politics, and a very honourable woman. Thank you so much for taking up the fight on behalf of us WASPI women. Could I ask what influenced you to make this one of your battles? Maggiemaybe

Hi yezle

Apart from the fact that you shouldn't have to be finding work, the reality is that many women in the same position as yourself are actually unfit to continue the work they are in. For the Government to ask women to try and find employment and to claim benefits if they can't, is also against their own ideology as this will not help to reduce public spending. It also seems hypocritical for the Government to ask women to look for opportunities when it is their austerity agenda that is reducing opportunity.

We've already seen how the disabled and the sick are bearing the brunt of austerity, but now it seems that the female pensioners will have to bear it as well.

GeekLove Tue 12-Jan-16 11:20:52

Following on from the recent violence against women in Cologne and other European cities, what do we need to do to ensure that this does not happen again?
How would you propose to confront ingrained misogynistic attitudes that although are more obvious in recent immigrants are still ingrained in a large part of society?

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:21:59

Baconyum

The pension issue afaik doesn't just affect women born in the 1950's. Agree with the comment on not having equality of pension age while we still don't have equality in pay, conditions and employability.

As it happens I have a family member who is born in the 1950's who was a carer for 30+ years and has been treated appallingly by the govt in terms of pension but also benefits.

Mhairi will my daughter (15) even begin to see any kind of equality during her working lifetime while govt is still largely populated by wealthy, white men?

Hi Baconyum

Society is by no means equal and that's why it's so important that we encourage more women to get involved in politics. In the meantime, the best we can do, and what I hope we are doing, is holding the Government to account by pointing out the inequalities that they are creating and continuing and force them to remedy this.

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:24:14

cdtaylornats

I think you were an excellent choice for Pensions. As a young worker what do you propose to do to encourage young working people tto invest in a pension

Hi cdtaylornats

As a young person myself, I think it's really important that we explain why pensions matter and how they work to young people. It's important to point out that money put aside in their working life is not money lost. It is money saved to secure an income when you no longer work. The sad reality is that pensions change more than the weather so it's important to make sure that you have something in later life. My advice to young people would be start now - I have!

mummysmummy Tue 12-Jan-16 11:28:14

hi
im a 1954 child, my state pension age has been put back twice. my state retirement age is now 66.5.
i thank mhairi for her interest in this matter.
what is the next step now and how can women themselves change the situation. my own mp is not in the least bit interested

5050parliament Tue 12-Jan-16 11:29:48

Thanks for bringing the debate about pensions and the impact on women. A really important subject. Loved your speech. Why do you think that there were there so few MPs in the chamber?

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:30:35

WestCoastDreamin

Hi Mhairi,

Having studied politics and now serving in Westminster, I'd be interested to know what you think are the best skills and values a good public representative can have? (I'm passionate about democracy but I don't believe that political fervour is particularly helpful in the day-to-day representation of constituents!). You are a talented, young politician; which of your skills and values do you think will serve your constituents best?

Also (if I can sneak in another!) How do you balance the passion to further the cause of Scottish independence with representing a no-voting constituency?

Hi WestCoastDreamin

I think the first thing a representative has to have is an understanding of the problems people in their constituency face and the empathy to appreciate them. I think qualities such as honesty and sincerity are essential. You have to be capable to be able to challenge ideas and form genuine arguments and have the ability to convey those arguments in pressurised situations.

Some people question whether I am a career politician but you have to remember what being a career politician means. It means that you are prepared to say anything, change any view and any opinion in order to please the masses rather than having genuine debate and sticking by the conclusion you arrive at on certain issues. I'd like to think I do the latter.

Pinkchampchoccies Tue 12-Jan-16 11:31:33

Apologies, my post from yesterday 19:03 was meant for another thread blush.

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:33:07

ItsAllGoingToBeFine

Do you find that being female, young, and an SNP member means you get less respect from other MPs? If so, which of these is most detrimental to people taking you seriously?

Or are the Houses of Parliament actually a bastion of equality and respect?

(I think you are awesome BTW smile)

Hi ItsAllGoingToBeFine

Thanks for that!

I think in the beginning people were especially patronising to me for a combination of all the reasons you mentioned. My colleagues experienced the same dismissive attitude as I did. However, I'm glad to say that that attitude has subsided the more our colleagues see that we actually do know what we are talking about and can quite often come up with quite articulate arguments and rebuttals to the Government.

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:34:07

AgentCooper

I know I've already asked a question, so please feel free to ignore, but re: your time at Glasgow Uni - QMU or GUU? wink

Hi AgentCooper

QMU - cheesy pop on a Friday was always a laugh

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:38:16

SonyaAtTheSamovar

An important issue to get a debate on. It is so patently unfair to move the retirement age at such short notice.

On a personal note : good on you Mhari, it is great to see you, a young passionate woman in parliament.

I am happy to be in the UK and think Westminster is a rather good parliament. Are you open minded enough to rethink your belief in Scottish independence? Gwaan!

Hi SonyaAtTheSamovar

It's precisely because I am open-minded that I support Scottish independence. The reality is that Scotland pays more into this Union than it gets back financially. Ultimately, Scotland deserves to get the Government it votes for. Democracy functions best when decisions are made by the people that live there. independence makes sense politically, socially and financially. I would urge you to look into this more.

And thanks for your nice words smile

SonyaAtTheSamovar Tue 12-Jan-16 11:38:18

I think choosing a Tunnocks shows we could turn you into a Westminster fan yet! [Wink]

You are very articulate Mhairi and I wish you well!

SonyaAtTheSamovar Tue 12-Jan-16 11:38:50

I timed my post well!

SonyaAtTheSamovar Tue 12-Jan-16 11:39:29

Believe me I have looked into it till my head hurt!

MorrisZapp Tue 12-Jan-16 11:39:58

Come off it, you need to ask if QMU or GUU? smile

It was goth heaven in my day.

ohdearlord Tue 12-Jan-16 11:43:40

Mhairi - in light of the attacks in Cologne, and the information now coming out from Stockholm and Malmö, how do we balance women's rights with multiculturalism? (I'm not by any means suggesting that it is only immigrant or refugee populations that cause these issues!)

claig Tue 12-Jan-16 11:49:03

Mhairi, I think you are great. I loved the way you socked it to the Labour bigwigs on TV usung passion and razor sharp logic and common sense that left that at a loss for words. I am glad you are not a "career politician". Kepp up the good work in fighting for people's rights. You are a great eample for young women and young people in holding the old cronies to account.

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:51:02

GeekLove

Following on from the recent violence against women in Cologne and other European cities, what do we need to do to ensure that this does not happen again?
How would you propose to confront ingrained misogynistic attitudes that although are more obvious in recent immigrants are still ingrained in a large part of society?

Hi Geeklove

I don't think anyone can disagree on the horrific nature of the attacks and my sympathies are with all the victims.

It's important to remember that we must differentiate between immigrants and criminals and we shouldn't tar all immigrants or refugees with the same brush.

Nor should we place any burden of responsibility on the victims or on women in general to 'keep men at arm's length' or anything of the sort. I think these facts should be kept in mind by not just the electorate but by politicians and media outlets also.

As you've pointed out, misogynists exist in all race groups and in all sections of society - the best way to combat any discriminatory views is through education.

I was pleased to see that there is an ongoing inquiry and I hope that lessons will be learned.

LarrytheCucumber Tue 12-Jan-16 11:51:55

I watched the whole debate on Pensions. I thought you were brilliant and clapped at the end blush. I am only slightly affected in that I got my State pension at 61 years 10 months, but some of my former colleagues, just two years younger than me, have to wait until they are 66. I wrote to my (Conservative) MP to express disappointment that he was not in the Chamber, but he said he had a longstanding prior engagement.

MhairiBlackMP Tue 12-Jan-16 11:54:09

FeministWummin

Hi Mhairi,

You said before you were elected, in response to (YET ANOTHER) question about your age that you couldn't help your age any more than your sexuality or the fact that you are a woman.

Why do you think that middle-aged, middle-class white men are automatically assumed to be qualified to be members of Parliament, while you have to justify your abilities?

Hi FeministWummin

I think men are automatically assumed to be qualified because we are slowly coming out of the mindset that only men are capable and able to make tough political decisions. That's why I think my election and that of my talented female colleagues is so positive.

The SNP actively tries to encourage a wide range of people from a wide range of backgrounds to participate in their political system to allow a better representation of society.

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