A grey power movement for Britain, as in the US?

Politics is over-dominated by the fashionable young. But who goes out to vote? And who's got the money?

by Robin Mitchinson on 30 October 2013 15:20

I am convinced that we need a Grey Power movement. After all, the over-50s own the lion’s share of the national wealth – houses, savings, investments. They are  the sector most likely to turn out to vote.

They are also most likely not only to be ignored by the political parties but also to be exploited by the government and generally put-upon. The media has been implying that we are geriatric parasites who take up far too much of the nation’s resources for no return. We have a very high proportion of pensioners still in work (a bit contradictory, that) who keep younger people out of jobs.

We clutter-up the  aisles in the supermarkets. We block the pavements with our Zimmer frames, and yet young people shamelessly park in the disabled bays.

I recently witnessed a disabled old guy being told by a young couple to get his mobility scooter off the pavement. I didn’t quite catch his reply but I think it ended in ‘off’.

We have been under attack since Gordon Brown abolished tax relief on pension fund dividends in 1997, making shares less attractive, forcing down prices and costing retirement schemes hundreds of billions of pounds. My small share-holding is still only worth a third of its 1997 value.

At the 2009 Conservative conference, before the General Election, George Osborne told delegates: “Gordon Brown’s disastrous tax raid on pensions heralded the start of the age of irresponsibility. So we will reverse the effects of Gordon Brown’s pensions tax raid and get our country saving again. That saving will fund investment – investment in real business’.

We are still waiting.

Brown’s assault on pensions is worth about £8 billion a year to the Treasury, Since taking over, Osborne has further tightened the screw, cutting the annual amount that can be put tax free into a pension from £255,000 to £50,000, to £40,000. He has also reduced the lifetime allowance, i.e. the total amount that can be compiled tax free, from £1.5 million to £1.25 million.

Our pension schemes were once the envy of the world, financially sound and fully funded. Now scarcely a week goes by without a ruckus over a firm getting out of final salary schemes because of big deficits in the pension pot.

Despite our age we get harassed unnecessarily at airport security; taking of your shoes and belt when you are a bit unsteady on your pins or suffering from spinal stenosis or arthritis is no fun, unless you are a security jobsworth. The US has abolished this humiliating ritual for over-75s.

Stand by for further attacks on elderly benefits, such as cold weather fuel allowances, social care, and bus passes. And the Government  has not given up on its  plans to force you out  of your home if you have what they consider to be one bedroom too many.

In the US, ‘grey-power’ is a formidable political force. We should do likewise.

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