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The Laz word....on ageism

Should Bootle's MP Joe Benton quit to give someone younger a chance? Or are our elders really our betters?

Published on April 13th 2010.

A LITTLE homework for everyone. Take an article suggesting older people should make way for younger individuals, and every time you see the words “old” or “older” replace it with the word black or gay or female.

When I lived and worked in the Far East I was staggered by the way older people were revered and respected by management and by their younger colleagues

You would be on the way to breaking every law in the land because, quite rightly, racial discrimination is illegal. So is sexual discrimination. Racism is still practised though, otherwise the employment levels in the ethnic areas in Liverpool would be closer to the norm.

Ageism is the last ism to be tackled by a society ironically becoming more aged with every year. Yet the chances of the over 50s finding a job after being chucked onto the scrapheap remain grim. I take my hat off to B&Q because they employ staff covering all age spans, and the older ones are so knowledgeable about DIY.

So why has some top-flight Labour person suggested MPs over 65 should move over to make way for younger candidates?

Joe Benton, Labour’s MP in what is described as the party’s safest seat, makes the hit-list of politicians some higher-ups in the party would like to see pensioned off. So does Manchester

Gorton MP and political veteran Gerald Kaufman. They call them bed blockers.

Joe, who is in his early 70s, is, thankfully, having none of it. He’s adored by the young and old of Bootle as a hard working back-bench MP.

In the local elections, Formby councillor Eric Storey is standing as an independent after he was de-selected by the Conservatives. He’s 91 – and I hope everyone in Formby from all of the parties strike a blow against ageism by voting for him. The Tories say he’s too old and have selected instead a candidate almost 40 years younger. Eric has served as a councillor for over 50 years.

People are living longer which is why the retirement age is being changed and, except in Merseyside, over 60s will have to wait longer to qualify for bus passes.

When I lived and worked in the Far East I was staggered by the way older people were revered and respected by management and by their younger colleagues. It seemed age brought experience, and the knowledge built up over many years could be passed on in a never ending cycle.

I like the idea of encouraging younger people to enter politics, which is why candidates like Luciana Berger, 28, are most welcomed on the ballot papers. But there should be similar encouragement to “new” older people.

Next time you read a story about age, try re-reading the article replacing every reference to age with words such as “women” or “ethnics” and you start to see the unfairness of it all. Or is it just because I’m heading to that time of life when it begins to matter?

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousApril 12th 2010.

Raise the voting age to 50. That will have them begging for votes from the older majority....

Phil FacebookApril 12th 2010.

Nik16 is actually a 38 year-old man in a greasy baseball cap pretending to be an illiterate teenager in order to groom his victims.

DigApril 12th 2010.

Can anybody translate Nik16's rant for me please? I'd love to know what he/she is talking about. LOL.

AnonymousApril 12th 2010.

Nothing wrong with giving younger people like Lucreza Borgia a chance because they do not have the same affection for old ideas, but there is a lack of respect. The only time someone should move over is if they are losing their mental or intellectual faculties.

Mike HomfrayApril 12th 2010.

I couldn't care less what age Joe Benton is, but his atrocious record on gay rights means he will not be getting my vote and I will not vote Labour again at a national election until he retires

Young-ishApril 12th 2010.

There was a time middle classes looked to retire with their private pensions at 55. Now we have to continue to earn a crush well into our late 60s. And that's progress.

Nik16April 12th 2010.

ur no way gonna get me votin for some woman of 70 cuz she no fit to think and just not fit. LOL!

Grey VoterApril 12th 2010.

People over 55 could determine who runs - or more likely doesn't run - our country. Politicians of all colours ignore the so-called grey vote at their peril. Businesses and organisations should legally be obliged to publish an annual return showing their age profiles of their staff members. Labour has 'all female' candidate lists - why not lists for the over 55s. Now that would be progress.

Rab ElrouserApril 12th 2010.

Hear hear! I'll vote for whatever party promises to string up a few bankers, preferably live on television. In High Definition.

defendantApril 12th 2010.

The Justice Service consider persons over the age of 70 not able (on the grounds of mental incapacity) to function 'in the interests of justice', therefore a compulsory retirement age for JPs is invoked..However there is no compulsory retirement age for judges! very strange. Joe Benton was a JP, now past his sell by date for that function, considered A1 to be an MP, very strange..

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