When the BBC put out this article, The rise of 'grey power', in 2004 it was not necessarily written from a grey perspective. It was written by the not-so-old Sean Coughlan, who is entitled to his article, whatever his age, since it is against the law of the land to discriminate on the grounds of age.
Mr Coughlan speculated about how the young might rebel against the heavy financial burden of an ageing population.
If that were true then, imagine how the grey population is feeling right now, seven years later when the aged population has had their pension entitlements depleted by the incompetence of the city of London, and are also expected to work longer at a time when they face worsening discrimination against them finding or sustaining employment.
From the wrong side of sixty, I observe people arriving at this point in their lives when this problem arises, and for no good reason they find themselves unemployed and unwanted and obliged to give way to others that are less able but more “qualified” on the spurious grounds of their age, if they happen to be younger.
Yes, we are talking about the illegal practice of age discrimination.
Mr Coughlan cited the 2004 “Age Concern” research which identified the real problem of the “underemployment of older people, who are being squeezed out of the labour market, also speculating that if more older people were able to work longer, it would provide the extra economic activity needed to fund the higher costs of an ageing population.”
Seven years later, that remains the case but discrimination against employing older people is now all but recognised as the way it should be. It is all too common to accept and to admit to this prejudice as if it were the natural order of things, that older members of society who are willing to work and need to work should move over and give way. Employers distance themselves from the ugly business of illegally excluding candidates on the basis of age, by employing agencies that are skilled at buffering them against the charge, of illegal age discrimination in the work place.
Mr Coughlan 2004 article was also something of a rallying call for the ageing population to become agitated and to apply more pressure at the ballot box. Sadly, the politicians of both persuasions were more inclined to court the crooks in Wapping than the misplaced underemployed grey-headed shelf stackers of B and Q.
Mr Coughlan speculated that this generation, “was once young and swinging in the 1960s, and it is expected that they will retain their activism and political energy” So right, Mr Coughlan.
Journalist Rosie Boycott said in 2004 that she has no intention of growing old quietly. Speak up Rosie? I’m right behind you.