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What&#39s in the bag for the baggers?

The battle between the fat cats of Monaco and the Standard Life Independent Members Organisation for the future of Standard Life is well under way and there is clear blue water between us.

Stewart Stevenson, founder of theslim.org, believes “slim” is an appropriate name for the organisation as it highlights the difference between individual policyholders and Fred Woollard, who refuses to reveal the extent of his investments in the mutual.

Until now, the terms of the debate about the future of Standard Life have been set by a man representing commercial rather than investors&#39 interests.

Slim will pose the so far unasked questions about the effects of demutualisation on ordinary, individual investors in Standard Life.

We will ensure that the true costs of Woollard&#39s proposals are understood by today&#39s investors and policyholders, who have good reason to thank the shareholders who in 1925 agreed to convert the business into a mutual company.

Slim recently published its first financial statement of the campaign&#39s income and expenditure and challenged Woollard to do the same.

Slim needs to know where Woollard&#39s financial support is coming from and exactly how much he and his allies expect to gain.

Observers will see that there are no big backers for theslim.org. Our expenditure to date is under 200 but our impact is out of all proportion because of the strength of our argument.

Stevenson, who stood as an SNP candidate for the Scottish Parliament in Linlithgow at the May 1999 elections, has one endowment insurance policy with Standard Life maturing in 2006.

The basic sum assured is 3,975 and the sum guaranteed at the most recent statement is 11,614. The current rate of terminal bonus for a 25-year-plus policy is 166 per cent, which would be worth an additional 19,280.

Since the launch of theslim.org, support has flooded in from around the world. The internet site has received hundreds of hits.

Commenting on the success of the launch, Stevenson says: “Within hours of theslim.org being launched, we received messages of support from throughout the UK and Ireland as well as from places as far afield as Canada, Australia, Israel and even Lian Yung Gang in the People&#39s Republic of China.”

We believe the response confirms the widespread support for retaining Standard Life&#39s mutual status for the benefits of its members.

It is also clear that many policyholders are uneasy about the motives and sources of funding for the Monaco-based group which wishes to sell off our company.

Over the next few weeks, in the run-up to the vote on June 27, theslim.org will step up its campaign against the Monaco-based carpetbaggers&#39 attempts to demutualise Standard Life.

With Standard Life publishing its first def-ence document recently, the slim.org is already receiving an encouraging new stream of contacts as the case for mutual status is becoming better understood.

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