Pensioner to set up political party
AN angry Essex pensioner has pledged to start his own political party to fight for the county's poverty-stricken elderly population.Tony Constable, 71, has become so disillusioned with being ignored by mainstream politicians he is forming his own party and calling on his fellow OAPS to join him in the battle for grey power.
AN angry Essex pensioner has pledged to start his own political party to fight for the county's poverty-stricken elderly population.
Tony Constable, 71, has become so disillusioned with being ignored by mainstream politicians he is forming his own party and calling on his fellow OAPS to join him in the battle for grey power.
He declared it was time for party politics to be kicked off the agenda when considering the hardships affecting the elderly across the country.
The former BT worker from Colchester said he believed a Pensioners Independent Party would be able to field a candidate for every ward in the borough's elections and a contender for MP.
Mr Constable, of Margaret Road, hit the headlines earlier this year when he refused to pay the full increase to his council tax, and said he was prepared to go to prison to prove his point.
Since May, he has gathered signatures from more than 5,000 people against the council tax hikes and is due to hand in his petition to Colchester Borough Council next week.
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He said: "I will stand and I am 71. I don't want to but I would, people are just about fed up with party politics, it is something I want to bring to people's notice.
"The president of the National Pensioners Convention, Rodney Bickerstaffe,has called for more time - trying to persuade people not to do it but I think he is rowing against the tide."
He added his campaign issues would be getting pensions tied into wages and ensuring they were increased sufficiently to allow any council tax increases to be affordable.
"We are the fourth richest economy in the world and if we can't afford to treat our pensioners in a way that is fair, then who can?
"I can assure you that a pensioner standing for election in Colchester as MP will get at least 10,000 votes and those standing as a councillor would get 1,000.
"If we put people up we will not be disgraced and it won't be just pensioners that would vote for us – there are a lot of people fed up with party politics including youngsters just old enough to vote," he said.
He said any organisation would have to be strictly non party-political but claimed pensioners had not had "pay back" for suffering the hardships of the Second World War and the tough times in the years which followed.
Barbara Williamson, chairman of the Colchester Pensioners Action Group, said: "It is a tempting proposition, but we need to get all the political parties on our side. We need to get it across that the country should be taking care of its pensioners and we should not be ignored"
She said pensioners should not be seen as a drain on society and that the work they did in the voluntary sector should not be forgotten.
However, the general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), which has more than a million affiliated members, warned that the best way forward was by putting pressure on trade union groups and political parties.
Joe Harris said: "I think if the Government is going to be moved to do anything, it will be moved by existing political parties and the trade union movement."
He added even if pensioners were successful in a bid for parliament, they would only represent a small addition to the existing cross-party support for the pensioners cause.