Stop divisive attacks on pensioners’ cash

Pensioners fighting back in Ireland, photo by Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)

Pensioners fighting back in Ireland, photo by Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Tony Mulhearn, public sector union PCS, Merseyside Retired and Associate Members’ association

Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation from the Department for Work and Pensions opened up another malevolent attack on pensioners.

His letter included the salvo: “I believe the cuts would have been even fairer to younger families and people of working age if we had been willing to reduce some of the benefits given to better-off pensioners…”

Veteran Blairite MP Frank Field and assorted journalists have trailed the idea that pensioners are ‘privileged’. “If pensioners get more, then someone has to foot the bill” and “pensioners now have a bigger share of the wealth that under-45s” are a couple of the media’s latest shots. Field says: “The so-called triple lock on state pensions is paid for by squeezing the real incomes of working people.”

These people see the banker-induced crisis as a zero-sum game. Every slice of the cake can only be allocated by taking from another. Even then, it must stay within the spending cap determined by this most mendacious government.

Ignored are the billions of pounds in tax dodged by the fat cats who bankroll the Tory party. And the £350 billion of ‘quantitative easing’ gifted to the banks. And the billions paid out in bankers’ bonuses.

British pensioners are among the lowest-paid in western Europe. We receive – if private and state pensions are combined – 38% of our average wages. This figure falls dramatically for workers without a private pension.


In contrast, the level in Holland and Austria is 90%, and in Spain and Italy 80% of average wages.

The Tories are wracking their tiny brains for a way to create an anti-pensioner climate. This attempt to set generation against generation should be stamped on now.

Now is the time for the Trade Union Congress to join with the National Pensioners Convention to prepare a massive campaign of opposition to attacks on pensioners, workers and young people. This campaign should initiate mass, coordinate industrial action, building towards a 24-hour general strike.

That could start to force this shambles of a government to retreat.