Earlier this year. Sir Richard Branson made his opinion known on the injustice of 'frozen pensions'. But Jeremy Corbyn has been on the 'frozen pensioner' side for much longer than that. He was on the Social Security Committee which debated this issue back in 1997. He was a founder member of the All Party Group on Frozen British Pensions (“APFBP”) in 2014, and is also on record as saying, in March 2017, that,
“This is a chance to make an historic change to our pension system and end the arbitral discrimination against some pensioners living overseas.
It is contrary to natural justice for some pensioners living abroad to be left behind while others have their pensions increased in line with inflation.
The next Labour Government will treat all our pensioners equally, wherever they live, and ensure that overseas pensions are levelled up, not down, when Britain leaves the EU.”
Earlier this year, on 5th February, the Social Security Benefits Up-rating order was debated in the House of Commons. Both the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party raised the injustice of Frozen Pensions during the debate.
The only prominent member of the Conservative Party who supports a Frozen Pensions Thaw is a gentleman by the name of Sir Roger Gale, who has been MP FOR North Thanet since 1983 and is the current APFBP Chairman.
So we have the Leader of the Labour Party in favour of treating all our pensioners equally and ensuring that overseas pensions are levelled up, albeit not until Britain leaves the EU.
I do not wish to discuss the merits and demerits of Brexit, apart from making the observation that the current state of both the negotiations and the nation could be better.
Below is a table based on a YouGov survey that was conducted at the time of the most recent General Election. It shows two things, (i) the preference for Labour and Conservative according to age group, and (ii) the likelihood of bothering to go out and vote, also according to age-group.
Age group Cons (%) Labour (%) Voter (%) Non-voter (%)
18-19 19 66 57 43
20-24 22 62 59 41
25-29 23 63 64 36
30-39 29 55 61 39
40-49 39 44 66 34
50-59 47 37 71 29
60-69 50 27 77 23
70+ 69 19 84 16
We have no idea when the next General Election will take place. The present government could hope for sunnier times and struggle on for another four years before being forced to call an election.
What could happen is that the Labour Party will publish their Election Manifesto a little before the Conservatives follow suit. The Labour Manifesto will be leaked some time before the official publication date and the Conservative Party will adopt or adapt some of Labour’s policy ideas. This is not cynicism, and neither is it paranoia.
If you can recall Theresa May’s cough-ridden keynote speech to the Conservative Party Conference last year, you will probably only remember the coughing and the disintegration of part of the stage set. Were it not for the coughs and disintegration you might have noticed that Ms. May introduced a number of new policies that had been appropriated from Her Majesty’s Opposition, inter alia relaxation of student debt legislation, the building of ‘affordable homes’, control of energy prices, and an improvement of Mental Health provisions under the NHS. In the past week we have witnessed a Tory announcement of a crackdown on various ‘tax havens.
I am a sufficient optimist to believe the Labour Party manifesto will include a provision on the increase of the Frozen Pensions. “It stands to reason”, as my old mate Alf Garnett would have said. JC has already done a lot to politicise the younger generation, but one of the things that still stands between him and 10 Downing Street is the tendency of the older generation to vote in high numbers, but to vote Conservative.
We can assume that Theresa May (if she still exists) will also make noises about equitable treatment of all old age pensioners, wherever they choose to reside.
But let’s just go along with the Labour Party. If they announce the unfreezing of pensions and this pledge is then parroted by the Conservatives, and opinion polls seem to predict a Labour victory, what does an elderly conservative expatriate voter do?
Doe he or she think about principles, “My parents were conservatives and their parents before them, I’ve always voted them and I always will.” Or does he or she think about the dwindling amount of money in his or her pocket?
I am now going to forget about any political principles and declare that if you want your pension to increase you should vote Labour. Even if the Conservatives adopt the Labour policy, and pretend that it was theirs and theirs alone all along, and then get elected, there is no guarantee that they will not forget all about it as soon as the election is over.
If, on the other hand, the Labour Party are elected, thanks to the vote of many elderly people who had never even dreamed of voting Labour before in their lives, Labour would not dare to think of reneging on their promise to the older segment of the electorate.
Can you imagine it?
“Bloody Labour Party, full of bleeding-heart beatniks, bullshit babblers, and butch lesbians. Told me that they were going to increase my bloody pension, but now they reckon they don’t have enough money in the kitty. Wasted it all on woodwork classes for lady-boys and special underpasses for badgers, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, frogs and toads. Think I’ll write to my MP – not that it will do much good.”
So whatever your political opinion – if you want your pension to increase you know what to do.