Almost 4 million women born in the 1950s, whose retirement age was increased from 60 to 66, have been weighing their voting intentions since Labour announced a £58bn compensation plan to pay back the “historic debt of honour”.
Jeremy Corbyn has said affected women could receive up to £31,300 in compensation, depending on their age. Boris Johnson, who previously pledged to consider the impact of the policy, now says he “cannot promise I can magic up that money”. The Liberal Democrats have committed to providing some compensation but offered no detailed plan or costings.
Jenny Hughes has voted Conservative all her life but she will never do so again, she said. “I did the right things all my life, financially, but am now forced to do gardening to keep my head above water, despite my hands being riddled with arthritis. I feel the Conservatives see us 1950s women just as a burden on society, no matter how much we have put in historically.”
She added: “We have been robbed, ridiculed and our plight ignored by the Conservatives. I now feel guilty and ignorant for having voted for them so long, and guilty that in doing so I thought only of myself and my own status. I will never vote Conservative again.”
Gill Wareing works as a civil servant and says she voted Conservative for many years but now feels very let down by them. She has had to sell her house and is now living in a caravan because of the pensions debacle. “Before Boris became prime minister he stated that he would do what he could to help us,” she said. “Now he says there is no money for us.”
Trish Vincent will also abandon a lifelong loyalty to the Tories over the issue. “’I’ve voted Conservative since I was able to. Boris said he would look at our campaign but once again has let us down.
“I don’t like Corbyn but leaders come and go,” she said. “If I can believe in Labour, then £31,000 of the £45,000 I’m owed is evidently being given to me in compensation. I’ve spent my entire life worrying about the country, Europe, my kids, the NHS. Now I have to be selfish and worry about me.”
Carol Lamb is one of the 1950s women worse hit by the pension changes. She is struggling to survive for the full six extra years without a state pension. “I have always voted Conservative,” she said. “But I am horrified at the injustice imposed by them on millions of women in a similar position to me.
“Boris Johnson initially said he might help us but has now changed his mind. In contrast, the Labour government has acknowledged the injustice and has come up with a plan to compensate us,” she said. “Who knows if it is an election ploy to get votes? But I will vote Labour on the strength of what they are offering.”
Denise Dickson has voted Conservative all her life but also won’t be doing so again. “Having been a staunch and unwavering lifelong Conservative voter, I am absolutely appalled by the disdain and breathtaking arrogance to which we have been recently subjected to by the Conservative party,” she said.
“It both pains and shames me but having been cast aside and our plight trivialised and ignored by the current corrupt Conservative party I feel that I must vote Labour because it seemingly has my welfare and future at the heart of their proposals,” she added.
There are, however, lifelong Labour voters who will be abandoning Labour at the polls despite their offer. Julie Davenport was a Labour member but says she will vote Conservative for the first time at the election.
“Labour will borrow the money and my son and his children will pay for it. We’ve already ruined the planet and left them a massive debt to inherit. And since Momentum joined Labour, I find it a hostile party for moderates.”
Labour’s pension offer will not persuade Davenport back to the party either because, she said. “The women who most need this money, who have to use food banks and can’t afford housing, heating and so on, will not see any of their compensation because the money given will be taken off of their benefits.”
Other women born in the fifties will, they say, vote Conservative despite Labour’s offer and Johnson’s U-turn. Judith Hilton would receive £23,200 in compensation before tax under Labour’s offer but will use the election to vote against it.
“I feel strongly that we should be repaid but I would rather repayment came from the court case and appeal brought by Backto60 than a blatant vote-buying pledge from Labour to partially compensate us to be paid for by even more government borrowing,” she said. “I believe in the long-term, far-left socialist policies will greatly endanger the national economy and we will all end up worse off.”
Margaret Cooper, a lifelong Tory voter, agreed. “The Labour offer sounds very interesting. However, I don’t trust their politics on the economy and I don’t like Momentum. I’ll be voting for the Conservative party again because although I want my pension, I think the Conservative party are being honest about not being able to pay it back, at least not over five years.”
But other 1950s women are so disillusioned by their experiences that, for the first time, they say they are unlikely to vote at all.
Primrose Jones said: “I never felt so conflicted about who to vote for to point I may not vote as there is no party I want to see in power.”Having voted Conservative in the past, she “hates what the Conservatives have done, and are doing to the less fortunate or well-off in society”.
But she has doubts about Labour. “Labour seem the better bet for general care and welfare across society but they are a scary prospect. I am not sure I trust them on the economy. A different leader to Corbyn might make me feel differently.
“In my constituency so it boils down to Conservatives versus Labour,” Jones added. “And I am beginning to think of not voting at all as there is no lesser of two evils.”
— to www.theguardian.com