A casual disregard for the contributions that older people have made

14th April, 2012 2:03 pm

On Thursday, Brian Paddick’s campaign team tweeted a (now deleted) comment about Ken Livingstone being “old” and “past it”, before pressure from myself and many others forced them to retract it. Coupled with the Lib Dems’ “Boris and Ken are tired old men” message, this incident reveals a worrying ageist streak within their campaign. It’s not only electorally dangerous for them (four in ten votes at the last General Election were cast by people over sixty); it also shows a casual disregard for the contributions that older people have made throughout their lives and continue to make.

Having worked at an older people’s charity, I’ve seen first-hand how our Tory-led government’s cuts are affecting people in later life, aided and abetted by Paddick’s chums in Westminster. Cuts to the NHS and social care disproportionately affect older people as their largest users. The drop in Winter Fuel Payments has forced more older people into the stark choice between heating and eating, endangering their health and their lives. The hike in the state pension age, fought by Labour last year, hits women currently in their late fifties who will be forced to work for longer before qualifying for the state pensions they have contributed to throughout their lives, juggling caring responsibilities for grandchildren and older parents while struggling to find work in the first place as unemployment continues to rise.

That’s why I’m proud to stand as a Labour London Assembly candidate; part of a party that has released a specific manifesto for older Londoners. Our plans will improve the lives of older people in London, from our energy co-operative that will cut the cost of fuel bills to our pledge to protect the Freedom Pass for those aged 60 and over and to extend it to the cycle hire scheme. I’ve been talking to older Londoners on the doorstep about our proposals and have been delighted with the positive responses.

But as our population ages, Labour needs to do more nationally to plan for a large demographic shift and the changes to services that this entails. We’re already leading the way in this Parliament, with Liz Kendall MP taking on the shadow older people’s brief, a position that does not exist in Government, along with her responsibilities as Shadow Care Minister. We should pledge to create a dedicated Minister for Older People after the next election, to co-ordinate departments’ responses to our ageing population. It’s vital that we ensure older people’s needs are considered not just in the design of our health and social care and pensions systems, but also in transport, housing, communities and local government and employment, as well as in our foreign and international development policy.

Labour in London is offering older Londoners a viable alternative to the current Tory administration, one that will make their lives more affordable and safeguard their dignity. As people who have contributed to our society throughout their lives, they deserve nothing less. Ahead of the next General Election, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do the same for people in later life across our country.

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  • Johndclare

    This is a brilliant article – much better than my own: http://bit.ly/GYJcT8 – which took a slightly different approach but ended up in the same place.
    Thank you – this needed saying.

  • AlanGiles

    Every cloud has a silver lining – and the one where this thread is concerned is that the locquatious “Guy M” will probably not be making his usual contribution(s). IF he has the cheek to do so, I will re-submit ageist comments he has made about me in one day alone.

    • GuyM

      You’ll see I’ve apologised elsewhere…. simply as it is unbecoming to sink to those levels.

      We don’t like each other and whilst a lot of it made me chuckle I think to those reading it would be hard to accept neither of us meant some of the insults that were personal barbs rather than general indications of ageism or homophobia.

      Best we move on, you have a nice day and we leave it at that.

      With regards the point of the article, it seems strange that a party in coalition which has been arguing in favour of no mandatory retirement age and an increased age for state pensions would attack people as being too old to work. But then the LibDems were always good at changing positions every time the wind changed.

      A pity the same people couldn’t get their fingers out and deal with the old age care time bomb that is building up, but then politicians are uniformly crap at the best of times.

  • treborc1

    Now  you have made me feel old.

  • Dave Postles

    It’s very fine for Paddick who retired at age 48 with a pension of £63k.  I’m sure the generation which fought in WWII (a few still alive) and those who saw us through the real austerity and the enormous debt of WWII, will be grateful for the depredations of their meagre allowances.   That is a generation which deserves our gratitude and our respect.  Who are being targeted by this miserly lot: the aged, the young, and those in middle age who will be cast onto the scrapheap.  It is truly diabolical. 

    • JoeDM

       A good example of the feather-bedding of state employees and the pensions that the rest of us in the wealth producing private sector have to pay for through our ever increasing taxes.

      • Dave Postles


        Most of the expansion of numbers has occurred in the NHS.  How many of the SCCs are based in London with higher salaries and larger pensions?

        • Alexwilliamz

          Indeed indeed. Reform of the pensions of the high earning civil servants would bring more equity and big cost savings. I’m pretty sure if someone could get the data they probably live longer too!

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        You are correct.  You have to wonder how someone gets a £63,000 pension at the age of 48.

        I remain a member of the NHS pension scheme, as I cannot beat it for generosity through investing myself.  I can get around 14% annualised return on my own investments (a historical average over the last 24 years, but I have to do all sorts of things in my evenings like track the price of fishing licenses in the South Atlantic).  I don’t trust the Government ever to pay out on my NHS pension, so I maintain other arrangements as an insurance, but even so, £63,000 at the age of 48 is a rich man’s scheme.

        I know it will be terribly unpopular with LL readers, but the whole public sector pension scheme is unbalanced in favour of public sector workers, and the rest of the country pays a lot of money.

        • Peter Barnard

          @ Jaime,

          “I don’t trust the Government ever to pay out on my NHS pension … ”

          Why’s that? Has HM Government a track record of defaulting on public sector pensions – and public sector pensions have been around for a long time?

          Sorry to say, Jaime, but this is pure tripe. Are you seriously saying that for you – and all the other public sector employees of your age – when it comes to the time when you put your scalpel down for the last time (and they put down “the bureaucratic pens that they have pushed for a lifetime”), then HM Government is going to say to you, “Sorry, Jaime. We ain’t going to pay out on your pension?”

          As I say, pure tripe. You really should get it out of your head that government can only be a bad thing.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            @ Peter,

            I am relentlessly sceptical of any Government, of any flavour.  Just because they have not yet cheated, does not mean that they will not in the future.

            I make my own arrangements.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Looks like you’ll be quids in then. Suggests its true that surgeons get paid too much if they can afford to make their own plans on top of the pension they are contributing to.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            I “Liked” that.  Good humour, with the cough. 

            I do not know, but you may be right.  I am not however a surgeon.  Surgeons put things right.  I am just someone who knows how to keep you alive and deliver you to a surgeon with a stable BOx level, constant pressure, no internal toxins or at least a minimal level mitigated, and standard blood nutrients.  There is a market rate for that, from £55-92K depending on seniority.  I am about in the middle.  Now, surgeons can really make some money.  Particularly plastic surgeons, if they want to stitch silicone fillets under women’s tits.

            Is it too much?  I do not know, nor would probably be a good judge.  It is what it is.  I know that I spent about 90% of my contract negotiation on things other than money, but the stupid BMA managed to reduce everyone else’s contracts by around £6,000 when they last tried to do the collective bargaining. when the GP’s got £30,000 extra each.  Which is why the College of Emergency Medicine and the BMA spit at each other.

            My family makes money from my wife, not me.  She’s the capitalist.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Definitely right about the disaster which was agenda for change. The purpose of pay (certainly in the public sector) is to provide the required recompense for time/expertise invested plus maintain incentives to perform well. Research has consistently shown that once you pay someone enough to keep the everyday worries away probably household income of 50-60K does that people rarely improve performance in a way that is linked to additional pay (other than simple things like working additional hours) far more productive, it seems are the conditions and autonomy* that person exercises. Is this not also true for you, where you seem to thrive in those situations where you have ‘owned’ things rather than simply being paid more. Sadly we seem a long way from this paradigm shift in terms of productivity and effectiveness.

            You are doubly blessed if your decent docs pay isn’t even the main earner in your household.

            * Please note autonomy does not equal unaccountability before that one is thrown at my post.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            We try to keep things quite simple.  I pay every bill, for the cars, the petrol, the mortgage, the shopping, the holiday money, my tithe to the Mission, and I keep back 10% for my investments.  My wife’s money is our family investment, about half of which is in the legal names of the children.  That amount fluctuates per month, sometimes a negative amount, sometimes £10,000 a month or greater.  It depends on her business.  She is a partner in a veterinary practice and one that deals with horses at Newmarket and Huntingdon racecourses, so it is seasonal, subject to competition among other vets’ practices, but also one in which the customers are rich, and the fees can be high.  

            But overall, she brings in 2-3 times what I can.

          • Peter Barnard

            @ Jaime,

            Given the Harold Shipman business, the babies in a Bristol hospital a few years ago, that hospital in Stafford (and I am sure that there are other examples), do you think I would be in order to say that “I am relentlessly sceptical of the medical profession?”

            I note that you don’t actually give a reason why you are “relentlessly sceptical” of any government.

            Yes, the effect of government has been less than perfect on too many occasions, but government and the people therein have also delivered much that is good for the condition of the people in “this blessed plot” on many other occasions.

            All human beings are imperfect and capable of error. They are also capable of great achievement – including those in government.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Yes Peter, you would.

            Any profession that lists among its’ members Doctors Josef Mengele and Ernesto Guevara, to say nothing of the littler criminals Hawley Crippen and Harold Shipman, is worthy of huge suspicion.  One of our earlier LL commenters (“Newsbot9”) used to daily remind me of this, often in personal and accusatory tones.  He seems to have been silenced for the last few months however.

            Leaving aside genocide, the problem is one of trust.  How does a patient or relative know that the doctor is trying to save a life, as opposed to take a life?  There’s not much a layperson can distinguish from a drip filled with saline solution to one with 1% tetrodotoxin, which will kill most people and is a part of everyday floor polish.

            As far as systemic failures are concerned, the ultimate fault will always remain with individual doctors, but unless specifics are proven, I tend to think that the large scale failures in hospitals are “cockup” not “conspiracy”.

          • Peter Barnard

            Indeed, Jaime – “cock-up not conspiracy.”

            You can say much the same for governments in mature western democracies.

            Having said that, what can really keep people (both public and private sector) against conspirational activities is a responsible and free press – and that includes the investigatory parts of TV.

            I prefer to trust people, organisations, and institutions, until it becomes evident that that trust is being abused.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Peter, and on that we can certainly agree, the capacity of any Government and Civil Service to cockup is truly vast.

            So perhaps your original saying should be “Sorry Jaime, we really wanted to pay out on your pension. We spent all of your contributions on some stupid idea DFID had about a well woman clinic in Helmand and a play park for the children of Turkmeni lesbians*, unfortunately we cocked up and let Gordon Brown take the economic tillers and steer the ship of state like a drunken 2 year old, and now Liam says there is no money left“.

            Call me paranoid, but I trust Downing Street about as far as I can throw the building, no matter which idiot is in charge.

            * Both of which happened in 2006.

          • Peter Barnard

            Not worth a response,  Jaime.

            Boring, boring.

          • derek

            Poppycock Candelas, Mr Lynch saved life’s daily, to be honest if I was ever in a plane crash somewhere in the Andes with you  I’d probably wouldn’t trust your brutality and I’d be very weary of your sharp teeth.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Are you still going to try with your half-baked ideas about Guevara?

            I’m not sure you could either find your way to an airport, nor would the UK Border Agency let you leave the country, both out of consideration for yourself and of national embarrassment for what you might try to do once you stumble off the aeroplane in a foreign country.

          • derek

            Pilot of the internet here is my request you don’t have to do it but I hope you try your best!

            Be nice! and meaningful would help.10/4 bad buddy.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            The best line from Rab C’s holiday on the Costa del Sol is

            Remember, youse an ambassad’ir frae Govan!

            You may ponder on that, or try to communicate in English.  Or Spanish, if you prefer.

          • derek

            In Loco Parentis!Jaime, a common law point, non espringo el bandanna.

          • GuyM

            I wouldn’t rely on them paying out what was planned to be paid out….

            Anyone who puts all their eggs in the basket marked “HM Treasury” is foolhardy.

  • idiot

    Given the disgusting homophobia churned out  by Livingstone’s chums like Qaradawi and Lutfur Rahman ,I think you can excuse Paddick a bit of ageism.

    • treborc1

      They say idiot by name, Idiot by nature….

      • idiot

         Could you point out what’s idiotic about this comment?

        • Both are friends with Christians. I don’t think either of the candidates advocate putting gay people to death. They simply talk to religious leaders.

          I would be pretty annoyed if I had a mayor that didn’t.

          I don’t see why this excuses an ageist election campaign.

        • treborc1

          well for a start mate your named Idiot, how much bloody further  do you want to go.

      • Jak2029

        Why do you feel the need to rabbit on to every single comment ever made?  It is hardly as though you contribute anything at all.  Can’t you just give it a break until you have something worth saying?

    • JoeDM

       Idiot by name, but reasonable comment.

      Ageism is an utterly childish concept.

  • Amber Star

    Paddick is a ‘pensioner’ himself. And a bit of a wally, if he thought an ageist campaign was a good idea. We should’ve let him get on with making a complete fool of himself.

    • AlanGiles

      What was even worse was that on an interview last week Mr Paddick got quite nasty with an interviewer who thought Mr paddick should be able to cost his policies (he couldn’t and admitted it). UKIP’s Mr Webb is reported in the press today as saying that HIS party cannot deliver the promises they have made in their manifesto.

      I suppose perhaps they deserve marks for honesty.

      Regarding Mr Paddick and his curtailed police career – at least the man didn’t have to resign for dishonesty – I am sure you are all aware of Ali Dazai, as enior Met offficer who has been sent to prison (twice) and after a very swift release the second time, is still persuing a legal claim against the Met for unfair dismissal.

      As for age and being past it, I think this is a very individual thing. You can have some people who have suffered ill health who age very much earlier than others. I know somebody eight years older than me who has far more energy than I do, and could work in his garden virtually all day. I can only manage half a day these days

      I am not talking about Ken Livingstone here, but I do think there is an age at which an MP should be forced to retire. we have an 80 year old in labour who has a compulsion to buy very expensive TV sets. I really think he should have been forced to stand down at the last election.

  • You are right about the need to avoid ageist language but there are a couple of real points behind it, that ken is getting old & standing for a high energy job & that his thinking is stuck in the past.
    On paddicks early retirement, thats pretty much because he was forced out.

  • Peter Barnard

    generalisation about age and retired people is, perhaps, flawed. In fact, as a
    principle, all generalisations are flawed …

    people in their retirement these days can (roughly) be placed into two classes
    : those with an occupational pension, and those without. For many of the
    former, life is good. I caused a bit of a stir at a meeting of my CLP Executive
    Committee last year when I remarked that the reason that so many of them were
    getting upset about the change from RPI-linking to CPI-linking for their (invariably
    public-sector) pensions was that, “instead of taking six holidays a year, they’d
    only be able to take five.”

    many of the latter (without an occupational pension), perhaps life is not so
    good. These are the people who should be targeted … and that brings us to the
    debate “means-testing vs universal benefits.” Certainly, if we had adopted a
    European-style state pension regime (“a living pension”) many years ago, there
    would be no requirement for means-testing and we would have no need of all the
    bus-passes/winter fuel payments business.

  • Wouldn’t it be better to give all the infighting shit a break and actually fight for people like Steven Collins, who are the type of people our party was formed to help?


  • Daniel Speight

     Christine if we are going to talk about ageism shouldn’t we also look at the Labour Party itself. The party seems to promote young middle class members into parliamentary candidates positions to the detriment of all other age and social groups.

    It’s very good that you have worked with old people’s charities, but maybe a quick look around you in the party will open your eyes. Livingstone is the exception rather the rule.


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