Cameron’s double bluff on pensioner benefits.

Back in April of this year, David Cameron made an empassioned speech accusing Labour of lying about his position on benefits for pensioners, particularly the Winter Fuel Allowance, free television liscenses, pension credit and the free bus pass – he also pledged his full support for the policies!

We will keep the free television licence, we will keep the pension credit, we’ll keep the winter fuel allowance, we’ll keep the free bus pass. Those leaflets you have been getting from Labour, the letters you have been getting from Labour are pure and simple lies.

As far as I was aware, Cameron had not committed to these measures, but he didn’t say they’d be cut either (I didn’t expect him to, it’d be electoral suicide). However, on Sky News he gave an angry rant about “Labour’s lies”.

Now who couldn’t believe that, with all the anger, bluster and banging of the desk? Why surely it was obvious that Labour were wrong and Cameron really did care strongly about pensioners. The Labour lies had been exposed.

Fine, except we are not liars. The Telegraph reports today that the age at which the Winter Fuel Allowance can be claimed will be raised from 60 to 66. The Lib Dems are pushing for a higher age of 75, although this is unlikely to happen. In addition, the help received will be cut by £50 for the youngest qualifying and by £100 for the oldest.

And this all comes after Cameron made an empassioned promise to “keep what they [the future government] inherited?”

Whist I am aware that all too often payments are made to well off pensioners when they are more suited to the poorest (whom the policy was originally for, I might add). But surely it would be better to ensure that the payments are fair than to cut them altogether? The Winter Fuel Allowance has been vital for many pensioners who otherwise couldn’t heat their homes. And surely Cameron with his anger at Labour lies would protect it?

Of course I am expecting the usual parroted line about us “not understanding the scale of the deficit” and the “tough decisions” that have to be made. But there are ways of dealing with this that don’t involve cuts to one of the most vital benefits people depend on. Especially when the Tory leader has pledged to keep these very same benefits!

So how about an apology then? We weren’t lying, we expected this to happen. Maybe it’s time to heed the words of Neil Kinnock back in the Wilderness Years: “I warn you not to grow old” – very apt for now, I think.

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