The UK is well able to pay decent state pensions, for the Guardian to claim otherwise shows it has sunk to a new low.
Last Tuesday the Guardian published an editorial entitled The Guardian View On Golden Oldies: Time To Move Over. It was a nasty attempt to divide the young and old and thankfully the paper's readership saw through it. In almost 50 years of reading the paper I don't think I have ever seen a Guardian editorial being torn to pieces by its readers in such a ferocious way. Well done Guardian readers, unlike the editorial floor you understand right from wrong.
This editorial was written by journalists who have good private pensions, and have earned inflated salaries for much of their working lives, I don't hold that against them, but for them to write this piece of drivel which is clearly designed to drive a wedge between young and old is a damned disgrace. It wreaks of the type of neoliberalism and austerity which placed Donald Trump in the White House.
We're told we live in the 4th richest country in the world, if so it's not the majority of pensioners who are hoarding this great wealth, the more likely culprits are the banksters and tax dodgers whom consecutive governments have turned a blind eye to for decades.
According to Age UK:
1 in 7 pensioners (1.6 million or 14% of pensioners in the UK) live in poverty, defined as having incomes of less than 60% of median income after housing costs. A further 1.2 million pensioners have incomes just above the poverty line (more than 60% but less than 70% of median income). Low income in retirement is often linked to earlier low pay, or time out of employment due to caring responsibilities, disability or unemployment. Women are more likely to be in poverty than men, and older pensioners, especially those aged 85+, single people living alone and private rented tenants.
Rather than over claiming pensioner benefits the opposite is true as Age UK points out:
Given these levels of poverty, it is of great concern that many older people are missing out on entitlements. The Government estimates that in 2014-15, £3.5 billion of low income benefits (Pension Credit and Housing Benefit) went unclaimed by older people. This is likely to be due to a combination of reasons including: lack of knowledge about the complicated systems, an assumption they will not be entitled, negative attitudes to claiming benefits.
Having become a low wage, low skilled economy after Thatcher tore the heart out of industrialised Britain, a rise in pensioner poverty became a racing certainty. Far from encouraging government to cut pensioner benefits one would have thought the Guardian would be fighting to shore them up, but no these wretched scribes call for austerity and cuts, never mind the UK state pension is one of the lowest in northern Europe. Like many with powerful and influential positions today their exalted status seems to give them an inbuilt inability to place themselves in other peoples shoes.
The Guardian once a beacon of common decency has sunk to a new low when it attempted the age old Tory trick of divide and rule. If the Tory government succeed in cutting pensioners' benefits those without a private pension top up will have to go cap in hand to the 21st century equivalent of the workhouse.
This country is well able to pay decent wages, benefits and state pensions to all, but to do so is not in the interest of the money grabbing shysters, neoliberal fanatics and their spin masters who have taken control of the media and State.
To paraphrase Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the unemployed and I did not speak out because I was not unemployed. Then they came for the sick and disabled, and I did not speak out because I was not sick and disabled. Then they came for the pensioners and I did not speak out because I was not a pensioner. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.
‣ The video above of Martin Hurkens with 'You raise me up', in the city of Maastricht says it far better than I can.
‣ More of this nonsense about cutting state pension benefits here: