35 Hours and Counting - Foresight and Forewarned is Forearmed Really?
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Forethought and Forewarned is Forearmed Really?
Did They do it to the 1950’s Women Deliberately?
There were three likely factors that contributed to the debacle of the 1950’s women pension losses.
Or lack of it...
To push through a law that would profoundly affect women of the 50’s and not take sufficient steps to inform meant one of two things. The government had either demonstrated complete incompetence and lack of foresight in not assessing the likely impact of this lack of consultation and its consequences for the women, OR ...they knew exactly the future consequences of their actions.
If we examine the likelihood of it being the latter, then we must take the view that it was done with a complete absence of social conscience combined with an arrogance that believed that if they brought this in by stealth, purely as a massive money saving operation, that the particular group of women affected would not have the tactical cohesion to challenge. In this they were mistaken.
The fact that there was an atrocious lack of advance warning, all indicates an intention to bring the changes in by stealth. Furthermore ministers being instructed to… (in Ian Duncan Smiths words) ‘ignore them, they will go away’ demonstrates an awareness that there would be definite consequence and response from the 1950’s women that they had assessed and dismissed as nothing worth consideration. Again either a conscious, calculated risk had been taken, or it was incompetence and maladministration on a grand scale.
Only yesterday, as we stood outside the Turner Contemporary, undertaking a silent protest to honour all the women who have died waiting for justice, did a lovely, intelligent lady from London born 1959 named Hazel, walk past us and then come back after reading our banner saying, “I think I’m one of you..” This is yet another small piece of evidence out of tens of thousands of statements in the public domain that gives an indication of how many women are still out there with little no knowledge of what is now befalling them. Her words were “I heard by the grapevine that it had gone to 62 but now I’m hearing 66...How did that happen, no-one has ever told me!” I sent her off with our card and she is intending to join us in London this week.
The resulting travesty of justice that was committed has brought about terrible consequences for the women who are being affected by this. As one of these women, I am very lucky. I have a husband...I am physically able to work and I have some savings. That makes me a very very lucky ‘wannabe pensioner’, but we are struggling to keep up nevertheless.
I’m 61 with another five years to wait for the pittance that we are to be given to exist on in our old age and which equates to one of the worst pensions in Europe.
What will have happened by then is that all of my savings that were put aside for ‘quality of life in retirement’ and nothing particularly frivolous here other than the odd holiday and rainy day money...and that is currently being used up on merely surviving and will be entirely gone by 66 years and my State pension age. This begs the question that the rest of my life will be existing rather than living and that knock on affect will last until I die. No happy sunsets for my husband and I...
Example to consider :- Some of us perhaps could have tried to prepare with a decent period of notice, perhaps £2000 a year saved for twenty years saved in the knowledge that this would have to be accrued for the future. But break it down… £38 to be put away approx every week in 1995 and for the next twenty years. All this (in my case) for a single divorced parent eating toast for lunch in order to afford to feed her children when they came home from school each day. It equated to a second mortgage and for the majority of us a laughable impossibility. Let alone the reality for me of one years actual notice via waspi and no letter ever!. Even five years to prepare if I had received any kind of notification would have required £8.000 per year minimum to be saved. All our cases are different yet following the same sad path, The ludicrousness of this would be funny if women were not dying because of it...
I am one of the lucky ones and I will tell people this again and again. Every day I am getting messages from women who put my meagre gripes by comparison to shame. These women are working two and three jobs at the age of 63 plus in some cases. Jobs that they are unable to physically do...Do you really want a pensioner to be trying to move your loved one from their hospital bed, when they can barely get out of a chair themselves?... and is that safe for either party? These women are going under with the stressful environments they are having to perform within and many are bullied by co workers and managers because they are not ‘performing’ to an adequate level because of illness and anxiety.
Now whilst I am the first to stand up and say that many of us can work harder and think faster than most younger colleagues and have a wealth of life experience and wisdom to offer. This is not the case for everyone and I have to accept now that, as for myself, physically at least, I am much weaker, suffer more from fatigue, though I still have all my chairs at home (There might be an argument against that statement coming from my family!) I have to work three days and the rest on my freelance projects to try and stop the onslaught on my savings, but I am not yet in a position where I have no fall back to save me.
These women, usually alone, have had the rug pulled from under their life with no regard to the poverty they would be placed in and the affect on their mental and physical well-being. They have no life, no one to help them and no hope. Those women cannot afford the tickets to London to protest. They can barely afford to eat let alone keep warm and clothed. They trudge out to whatever jobs they can get with no light or happiness in their day, just the knowledge that they have received absolutely no respect for all they have contributed to society throughout their hard working lives. Instead they are ignored and allowed to die with not even the decency of a straight and truthful answer from government, just more lies and spin.
Couples, whose plans for their retirement together, that they had been working towards all their lives, are now seeing those plans in tatters because of the callous actions of this government and its predecessors. Women, who often have older husbands, are now having to work and their precious last few years together have been stolen. Older husbands forced to work also to help ailing wives who can no longer go on and who are possibly dying in the process also, so not just women affected…
As I sit here today with a twenty four hour heart monitor on, something that as a previously healthy woman with very good blood pressure I am shocked by. I had no problem with this until commencing this battle for justice and now I find myself angry daily at some new injustice or heartbroken reading the stories of women so much worse off than myself. I am agitated, depressed, anxious about the future and it is affecting my health... as it is us all. I have only been fighting since 2017...Imagine the affect on women fighting for five years or more as some have been.
So back to forethought...My own example shows the intent clearly...From the 1995 instigation of this law, to the date I found out was in the region of 22 years. Had they send me a letter it would have still been 17 years later, leaving me only 5 years to prepare. I don’t need to tell most of you about the lies and the half truths they tell when they cannot escape public questioning on this.
The fact that the conservatives have been instructed not to engage with the 1950’s women is a blazing flag that they are in the wrong. It is by not responding and stonewalling all attempts by MP’s supporting us, that they demonstrate a deliberate and calculated campaign to deflect investigation of their previous actions and with it comes the necessity to refuse to admit the part they have played in this travesty.
So to revisit Hazel, the lady who has just discovered her fate. Her words were typical of everything that has been happening to 1950’s women. They have brought this law into force… they have kept it quiet, deliberately so in all our opinions and they have absolutely known that there would be dire consequences for the group of women they chose to bear the brunt of this.
In knowing that, they were actively discriminating against us. Even at best, bringing something in, even through incompetence (and I’m not throwing that completely out of the window) that affected one decade from the whole of womanhood in such an extreme manner, meant that they were indirectly discriminating against us. Discrimination in any form, be it directly or indirectly is unlawful.
What needs to be done now is to redress the balance. This government needs to hold its hand up and say “We were wrong and we are going to put it right”. If not, we have to put our trust in the judicial system on the 5th and 6th as the government is showing no signs of a conscience.
That they have made a terrible mistake is clear. Yet if they do not make reparation for this then they must accept that they have 'absolutely and unequivocally' blood on their hands and should be answerable to us all. But none more so than to the women who have died in poverty, despair and ill health and likely before their time. Women who deserved respect who are still being drawn into a benefits system that has been systematically designed to prolong and add to their agony before the release of death.
There is no reparation for those women we have already lost and their families. They have been the victims of an elitist succession of self interested individuals...who were put in place to care-take the growth and welfare of this country and its people.
For Carys, Patricia, Sue, Alison, Julie, Margaret, Morag and Judy to name just a few of thousands. Lets gather for the Judicial Review on the 5th at Westminster (noon) and the 6th at The Courts in their memory and sow a seed of shame in the perpetrators otherwise callous, corrupt hearts!
The Persistent Pensioner