Tories have abandoned pensioners and pensioners are in a strong mood to abandon the Tories, says Stephen Pound

In normal times it was wearily accepted that a political party would ensure a steady supply of sweeteners directed at its core voters and, in return, the grateful recipients would flock to the polls to repay the favour.

In the case of the Tories and the so called “grey vote” the facts tell a very different story.

The cynical might assume that taking the vote for granted meant that no fiscal energy need be wasted in that direction and, in general, the tactic worked, and pensioners remained the most faithful bloc of voters on whom the Tories could rely.

Labour desperately tried to redress the balance with Chancellor Brown pulling such rabbits from the budget hat as the Winter Fuel Payment in 1999, Minimum Income Guarantee for pensioners in 1999, free TV licences for the over 75s in 2000 and Pension Credit in 2002.

Stephen Pound with insets of pensioners

Stephen Pound claims the Tories have abandoned pensioners

UK Parliament/Getty

However, these are not normal times and the complete absence of any tangible benefits for pensioners in the March 2024 budget suggests that the Tories have all but abandoned this group.

You could say that the “grey vote” cares not just for monetary benefit but looks to better health care, safety at home and on the streets and security in old age if admitted to residential care.

On all these grounds the Tories have woefully failed to provide the support or the reassurance that pensioners need.

To patronise is worse than to attack and the only response to the patrician pat on the greying head is not as some in the lofty heights of Conservative Central Office would wish, a subservient tug of the forelock and a muttered thanks, but actually a potential revolt at the ballot box.

There is now growing evidence that pensioners who face a thousand-pound hit as a result of what is accurately described as a stealth tax raid are saying that enough is enough and the Tories who were once the party of sound finance, national security, supporting the armed forces and repaying pensioners for their decades of service are now none of these things.

We are talking serious numbers here – there are over eight million pensioners who pay income tax and who will see a dramatic fall in their income.


Pensioner opening purse

There are over eight million pensioners who pay income tax and who will see a dramatic fall in their income


That is a huge number of people in a group that have the highest propensity to vote in elections.

This contrasts with the average £450 a year that those in the 18 to 45 age group will benefit from.

An even greater threat looms over the horizon.

If the much-trailed proposal to actually abolish National Insurance Contributions ever emerges from the shadowy cellars where such plotting is done, then there will be huge consequences for public services and – inevitably – support for pensioners.

By getting rid of NICs the Chancellor must have a valid and properly costed proposal to replace the money or our already catastrophically underfunded public services – from the Police to the NHS and the Armed Forces.

We are already seeing a huge rise in private security on the high street, private medicine in what were once our NHS hospitals and private pension provision where the state falls short.

There are those who can shoulder this burden and who have pockets deep enough to step off the safety net of state support but many more will not have this luxury.

Chief among the losers will be pensioners who cannot top up their wages with overtime or share dividends.

I seriously doubt that they will forgive the Tories – either now or if the proposal to axe NICS does come to bitter fruition.

The Tories have abandoned the pensioners and the pensioners are in a strong mood to abandon the Tories.

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