The Labour Party is to flesh out details on Sunday of how it will financially compensate some 3.8 million women many of whom are enduring enforced poverty after having to wait up to six years to get their basic state pension.
The party’s manifesto yesterday pledged full support for the women and promised talks if it wins the next general election to draw up a compensation package.
But it did not put any cash figure on what it would pay the women or make any provision in the Grey Book to fund it.
This is in sharp contrast to a pledge given to pensioners living overseas in places like Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and many Caribbean countries which is fully costed in the manifesto. It would come into force in April and could £500m spread over four years. This is a victory for the all party group that campaigned for the pensioners and will mean their pensions would get their first uprating for years. If Britain leaves the EU pensioners living there would also get a permanent uprating rather than just for three years under the Tories.
The failure to mention any money for the women last night provoked a furious reaction from the women with many tweeting their anger to John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor and others saying Jeremy Corbyn had lost their vote.
However one woman challenged Andrew Gwynne, the party’s shadow communities secretary, warning that Labour’s manifesto announcement did not ” look good”.
Gwynne replied: ” Yes John McDonnell is making an announcement on Sunday about how we will honour the pledge on Page 75 of the manifesto to the 1950s women. the costings are separate to the grey book.”
I have since heard from sources that this is indeed the case but Labour are being tight lipped again about what they are going to announce.
The full manifesto section reads:
People work hard for most of their lives and deserve a decent retirement free of financial stress and insecurity.
Under the Tories, 400,000 pensioners have been pushed into poverty and a generation of women born in the 1950s have had their pension age changed without fair notification.
This betrayal left millions of women with no time to make alternative plans – with sometimes devastating personal consequences.
Labour recognises this injustice, and will work with these women to design a system of recompense for the losses and insecurity they have suffered.
We will ensure that such an injustice can never happen again by legislating to prevent accrued rights to the state pension from being changed.
The Conservatives have repeatedly raised the state pension age despite overseeing a decline in life expectancy. Labour will abandon the Tories’ plans.
All I can say is that John McDonnell better come up with something concrete rather than warm words or else they are going to be 3.8 million women voters who are going to be bitterly disappointed, judging from the tweets I have seen, and Labour could well lose many potential votes on December 12 – not only from them – but from their spouses and families.
Frankly I am bit puzzled why they are doing this and prolonging the suspense..