WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality
Two years ago there was great outpouring commemorating the start of WW1 and then again this year remembering those who fell during the Battle of the Somme.
It was spoken of a war from which the men would return to a land fit for heroes.
In the period following the Great War – what was Great about it?
In the twenty years from the end of WW1 in 1919 to the start of WW2in 1939 over 4 million houses were built in the United Kingdom providing affordable homes for working class families the majority of who had lost either direct family members or friends in the war.
It was a major achievement and the foundations of building a country and “Homes fit for Heroes” in a more equal society in which men would have work and women would have the opportunity of working and to be fair if they chose to stay at home and raise the family.
The image of inter-war working class mothers wearing a “pinnie” in their own homes – with an indoor toilet – is amongst the most iconic of the period.
In simple terms men were seen and it has to be said at the time accepted to have been responsible for being the bread winner which meant that women were reliant and fully dependent on the income brought in by the men.
Of course we should also remember that this was the period that following the suffragette movements campaign it was considered – by white wealthy men – that women over the age of 30 were capable of being able to have the vote.
Full-time working women were of course essential during the war period to keep the country running whilst the men were away at the front but little is said about the necessity for many of them to continue working throughout the inter-war years to replace those men who never returned.
Of course come the 1920’s and the depression that caused mass unemployment families began to suffer from illness related to lack of nourishment and without the safety net of a welfare state infant mortality rose to unimaginable levels.
It seems incongruous now that the biggest boost to employment in the decade that followed started in 1939 was another world wide conflict this time lasting six years.
Only this time when it was over women who for six years had kept the economy and production lines open – and incidentally (he says with irony and tongue firmly in his cheek) also raised their families – weren’t all prepared to return to the status-quo of being the subservient little woman staying at home.
They fought for and won rights that they were entitled to having paid their dues in service to protecting the freedoms that the war was fought for.
Which naturally brings me to the WASPI Campaign of today.
The argument for equality in pension ages is one that every woman WASPI campaigner agrees with.
Though you wouldn’t believe it if you only listened to Government Ministers or read only the Daily Mail, the Sun or any of the other right – wing Conservative supporting press.
What WASPI women are campaigning for is fairness and equality which on the 100th Anniversary of them first getting the vote is to put it bluntly ” bloody shameful”.
It is fundamentally wrong that they had not been given the information or warnings about the changes in the state pension ages in sufficient time for them to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that they could manage.
The average age difference of a married couple between men and women is 6 years, the man being the older of the two.
What the changes to women born in the 1950’s means for many is that they are now absolutely reliant on the income, in effect pensions of their husbands.
Even worse for many, and we are talking about tens of thousands of women who are on their own is that they have no income for periods of up to 6 years between being 60 and 66 even though many have paid into their pension for the whole of their working lives.
A pension isn’t as Theresa May and Phillip Hammond claim an entitlement.
It is a right and right that the women born in the 1950’s have not only earned but more import ally have paid for in their taxes.
If you pay into something it is “your right” to expect the contract to be fulfilled not an entitlement dependent on how those who took your money think.
The fact is Theresa May has stolen over £40,000 for each and every one of the WASPI women.
It is no less than corporate theft by the Government on a grand scale.
And so almost a century after women successfully won the right to vote and not have to be dependent on a man for their income we have in 21st Century Britain returned to it once again.
Is that right?
Is that justice ?
Is that equality?
Of course it isn’t and that is why we should support the WASPI cause.
To fail to do so may have everlasting consequences on those politicians who ignore them.
This campaign is being fought on behalf of over 2 million women born in the 1950’s.
That is two million on the electoral roll.
That is two million very angry grandmothers, mothers, aunties whose sons, daughters, grandsons, grand daughters, nephews and nieces who are also on the electoral roll.
I am delighted to have seen Labour Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs come out and support WASPI but it will not be enough if warm words are the only result.
What amazes me – in fact baffles me – is the number of women who affected by this political larceny have taken the attitude that nothing can be done about it so haven’t or aren’t prepared to get involved in the campaign.
What needs to happen and happen very quickly is for the Government to agree to meet and settle the issue and this will only happen if the Opposition Parties state very clearly that one of their manifesto election promises will be to pay the WASPI women their rightful pensions.
Or at the very least a fair settlement and be specific about what the WASPI women will receive not warm words but real commitments.
This is I believe a subject to which I will be returning in the not to distant future.
If you have a WASPI woman in your family or circle of friends than go out and support them.
And think about this:
If you don’t then you are being complicit in the hardship they face as a result of the Governments theft of their pensions.