Only the Tory Party, in its currently delusional state, could imagine that those voters who put it in power will continue to do so come what may, whatever hardships are meted out to them by the people they supported. Only those comfortable enough not to know what tightening belts really means could urge it on others. And only those who truly care about no-one but themselves could punish the most vulnerable in society.
The Tories have secured power because older voters have, time and again, been the group that not only turns out to vote, but votes mostly for them. Those over 65 have their state pensions; many also have the occupational pensions that are being progressively denied to younger voters. The grey vote has done all right; the Tories have done all right by the grey vote. This is not hard to understand. Except for the Tories.
So it is that the Tories, urged on by Iain Duncan Cough, are preparing to royally shaft the very group of voters that has sustained them in power. While maintaining that a report from the Centre for Social Justice is not and will not become Government policy, it is clear that Duncan Cough believes he has support within his own party for its core proposal - to raise the state pension age to 75, and to do it sooner rather than later.
Continuing the Tories’ propensity to the Orwellian, Duncan Cough has told “Removing barriers for older people to working longer has the potential to improve health and wellbeing, increase retirement savings & ensure the full functioning of public services for all. CSJ report argues for more support for older workers: better healthcare support”. Removing barriers to driving the elderly into the ground clearly has real potential.
But do go on. “Increased access to flexible working, better opportunities for training, employer-led Mid-Life MOT & implementation of an ‘Age Confident’ scheme. PROVIDED that this support is in place, the report proposes an increase in the State Pension Age to 75 by 2035”. He even has the brass neck to sign off with the hashtag #ageingconfidently.
What the NHS does already - “Mid-Life MOT” - is repackaged as some kind of bonus, a benefit in kind. Perhaps he will propose taxing it next. The Newspeak in the CSJ’s report is truly magnificent in its heartless reduction of the elderly to mere economic cyphers: “As we prepare for the future, we must prioritise increasing the opportunity to work for this demographic to reduce involuntary worklessness”. Eliminating retirement, it means.
There is more. “For the vulnerable and marginalised, a job offers the first step away from state dependence, social marginalisation and personal destitution”. Those who wish to retire are now “marginalised” and “destitute”. But they do realise that this proposal may meet with some opposition, given the intention to screw over the older generation.
So out comes “While this might seem contrary to a long-standing compassionate attitude to an older generation that have paid their way in the world and deserve to be looked after, we do not believe it should be”. It is, like so much else in Tory land, a case of belief. Just like Brexit, poverty, homelessness and community cohesion. We need only to believe, and then the idea of driving the elderly into the ground to save a few bob will be accepted.
At least Duncan Cough didn’t say “Work Makes You Free”. Well, not yet, anyway.
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