Ken Savage of The Greater London pensioners Association
The mumblings of discontent
and anger are growing at pace with what a real man of the people wrote
some 40 odd years ago - 'The Rolling of the Thunder'. What an MP and
what a resounding condemnation of the policies of this present
government there would be if we had his like in Parliament today.
It has to come after 18
years of what was termed Thatcherism and 9 years of another misleading
terminology 'New Labour'!
Both of these periods, in
the modem day history of the people's demands and campaigning for
justice in their social welfare, have taken government policy direction
towards greater hardship for the mass of the people, young and old. But
it has brought about a growing, popular, significant movement and demand
for a fundamental change.
That movement comes from
many sections, the trade unions for an end to the restrictions
imposed by the last conservative government on their right to
protect and advance the rights and conditions of their members - the
many thousands in need of a home whose desperate situation has been
aggravated and worsened by the selling off of local authority housing
stock, - wholesale sackings of health service workers across the
country, affecting the elderly and others in need of hospital care - the
closure of thousands of Post Offices across the country - care homes
sold off by the thousand denying the older folk and the disabled living
alone their dire need of attention and care, and the growing
understanding that the country can afford a decent higher
state pension for all in retirement without the demeaning means test.
The loudest united
rumblings from millions of people of all ages are heard in protest
against the cost of life and the billions of pounds wasted in war
against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
All this claims our Prime
Minister is the modernising need of the day, who claimed at a conference
of public sector unions in June that it is "bizarre" and "reactionary"
to insist that the public sector should not be in private hands.
Not so Mr Blair, the
reverse is the age old proven case, corporate involvement in public
services has in the past, is now, and will in the future inevitably lead
to and result in growing wealth pickings for the private sector at the
expense of the people.
Our Prime Minister plans to
hand more areas of the National Health Service to private companies,
these are areas vital to the care of the older people and others who are
It is your plans and your
whole obsession with privatisation that is "bizarre" Mr Blair.
At the Kings Cross County
Show in Coram Fields a lady bought a copy of this newsletter, signed the
petition to keep the NHS public and to those standing around she said
the government white paper on pension reform offers - - - - all for
today's pensioners. That is the understanding of millions of pensioners
who possibly express their feelings and anger in a little milder form.
Joe Harris Secretary of the
NPC is absolutely correct when he says that you cannot have a meaningful
reform of the pension system if you choose to totally ignore the needs
of today's pensioners, and that is precisely the situation of those in
Blair has chosen what he
says is looking forward in the light of new global developments and the
generation, our generation, which made a major contribution in
laying the foundation for the wealth that this Britain enjoys today,
have no place in his plans, we are termed the 'forgotten generation',
questioned as to our meagre savings and means before given a piddling
hand-out in the hope of keeping us quite and passively accepting our
This ego bloated Prime
Minister has chosen to ignore the plight and situation of the most
vulnerable people in his rotten obsession with power, privatisation and
wars of aggression. And how well he has served the nation's private
sector, a 16% hype in profit to a staggering ?58 million for Stagecoach,
and that's not all, their additional bus operating profits added to its
rail grab gives them a return of ?156 million .
Then we pensioners must
spare a thought for those 5 gentlemen executives, of what was once the
public's Thames Water, busily digging up London's roads, they share ?20
million a year as their profits from our water bills rose 31% the water
leaks across London were plugged by less than 2%. More than 4,000 people
have received threatening letters from this classic example of
profiteering warning them that they face fines of ?1,000 for breaking
the hose-pipe ban. Are these the men that the past Secretary of the
GMB, John Edmonds, referred to as "greedy bastards"? Or are we to see
them m Blair's forward looking light, whose prime concern is to serve
the needs of the people'7
Just two thought provoking
examples of Blair's forward looking -plans, and his Chancellor also has
forward looking plans, he has announced a further expansion of ?26
billion of PFI (Private Finance Initiative) on some 200 public sector
projects in his budget this year. This all adds up to a massive drain on
the economic, social and health needs of us all. Pensioners today and
The London Pensioners
Movement must continue to campaign as a united force for pensioner?s
rights and justice, on Pensions, Health Care as the two most concerning
issues and of course the many questions which affect different
sections of pensioners. That is the role of the London Pensioners
Organisations, but our campaigning efforts would be weakened if we
failed to understand the connection between our aims and the broader
national policy direction of this or any other government.
The campaigning aims and
demands of the pensioners organised movement is so often too narrow,
carried out in isolation, tending to weaken some of our arguments which
holds back the growth of the organised movement. Our role has to take
on a broader perspective linking all issues and questions of national
concern for the pensioner and millions of others. I can sense some
people saying our pensioners movement must not get drawn into politics.
The costly wars m Iraq and Afghanistan, the holding back of ?36 billion
in the National Insurance Fund, the infiltration of the private sector
handed our NHS in the guise of PFI. and the obscene profiteering from
our once publicly owned services. Are these questions not political?
Of course they are and they have a direct bearing on the social and
economic welfare of pensioners and millions of others throughout the
In the light of this policy
direction from Westminster it should be of no surprise that in the
government's white paper response to the long awaited Turner Report on
Pension Reform, pensioners of today were taken on board in the political
scene and totally ignored by the government of Mr Tony Blair.
The NPC white paper
alternative response endorsed by the 2,000 or more nationwide delegates
at the Blackpool Parliament is and must be to the fore in our immediate
campaigning demands, it can be obtained from the GLPA or the NPC direct.
No Mr Blair the pensioners
are not "bizarre" or "reactionary" on voicing their just demands for
a full liveable pension in retirement. It is the policy direction of
your government that fully deserves such an accusation.