Asian voice: retirement age: April 2011

The approach of one’s senior years should be a time of peace and calm reward for a lifetime of work. It should be a time to delight in the growing family, to make those journeys that you were never able to before and maybe it is a time for a deepening spirituality and a look over the human horizon to the next turn of the wheel of life.

What the gathering shades of evening should never witness is the terrible anxiety and distress that the inchoate slew of contradictory policies currently swirling chaotically from the think tanks and Old Etonian dining clubs that inform the current Liberal Democrat/Conservative government.

Put simply and accurately the policy of the coalition was – at last week – for every citizen to work longer for a lesser pension.

A ferocious outburst of opposition from every group representing older people has forced the latest in a long line of “u-turns” from this muddled and divided coalition government.

On the 11th.April 2011 two senior Tory cabinet members were hurriedly drafted into the squad for damage limitation.

Interrupting a “Keep the Pound” rally in his Yorkshire constituency William Hague was forced to defend the latest mess and muddle by claiming that the highly complicated proposals were “not complicated”!

Meanwhile David Willets was trying to justify slashing all specific age related benefits such as the winter fuel allowance (already cut by a third); TV licences, and free eye tests etc etc.but stating that they would be taken away on Monday only to reappear on Tuesday as part of the general state pension.

I don’t usually pray the Liberal Democrats in aid but Lib.Dem MP Professor Steve Webb – who has forgotten more about pensions than his coalition partners ever knew – describes the new proposals as “a complete shambles”.

At the heart of the matter is a very specific question – should the state value and reward the contribution of those who have worked all their lives and who have contributed so much to the economy and to society.

Yes – the population is aging and, yes, pension costs as an element of national expenditure are rising but we’ve known this for decades.

Equalisation of retirement age between men and women may be unpopular but it is defensible. Shrinking the pension, extending the working life and forcing our seniors to face the thought of work without rest is utterly indefensible and no decent Tory or Liberal will have anything to do with this vicious and destructive insanity.

Work until you drop is not a political philosophy but an entrenchment of the wealthy and privileged few contrasted to the awful prospects facing those whose life’s work involved something a little more strenuous than working in the boardroom of Daddy’s stock broking firm.

Commons Lose the Toss

The Annual Pancake Race between members of the House of commons and the House of Lords was won this year by the Lords.  The Race is run each year to raise support for REHAB, an organisation, which helps people coming of drugs or alcohol.

I wonder if we will win again this year?

OK Gang - Let's show those Lords!

Right - Group Hug before we enter the Fray

OK So we didn't win, But we enoyed it!

The event received widespread positive media coverage, including the BBC, ITN and CNN.   Here are some links to this coverage below.

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12678467

ITN: http://itn.co.uk/907835f665a5e8eb404caf98251be5bc.html

CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/offbeat/2011/03/08/uk.pancake.races.cnn