Friday 22 March 2019

The 'Grey' voters know what they want and should be the best equipped to achieve it

The over 50s

The over-50s are probably the most politically aware group in the country
The over-50s are probably the most politically aware group in the country

Willie Kealy

So you're middle-aged. Well middle-aged if you expect to live to be 120. You are part of what is known as the grey vote. That's not a homogenous group. Like any sector of society, there are rich and poor people with grey hair or none, and priorities and pre-occupations vary.

But let's say you're part of the generality - on a State pension and maybe also a work pension - double that for the household if you are one half of a couple. Well, that's a top priority - don't mess with the pension.

Next probably comes health. The cost of medicine is important to you, and the cost of healthcare cover with the VHI or one of the other groups you have probably subscribed to all your working life without looking for much back in return. Now that you might need some help in that area, you don't want the rug pulled out from under you. And if you have to go to hospital, you are probably a little apprehensive about all those "trolley" stories that have been blocking up the news lately.

Income tax will still be following you, even though you probably don't have an income from a job or profession any more, but at least it takes account of your ability to pay. That's important.

Other charges have to be met too, charges like water rates and payments for waste disposal. And despite all the outcry, I believe most people will pay and accept that water, as a resource, can't be free anymore.

But property tax, now that's another story. That is blind injustice because it looks at the house and doesn't care who lives there - rich people or poor. You probably paid a mortgage (or two) throughout your working life just to have a decent house to live in and you didn't object to doing that. You were working, so putting a roof over the heads of your loved ones was what was expected of you. But now your mortgage is paid off and you thought you might be able to breathe a little easier in the wind-down of life. No such luck.

Property tax is indiscriminate in its savagery. Pay up or else. If your pension isn't enough to cover it, sell up.

You discover at the end of your life that the Government thinks you don't deserve to live in the house you built or bought and paid for because you are too poor. And that situation never ends - it will follow you to the grave.

Chances are too that you are a parent and maybe even a grandparent, so unless you are totally self-absorbed, all the issues that affect children and their struggling parents are issues that concern you too. All of which probably makes you a member of the most politically aware group in the country.

Add that to the fact that it's an accepted fact that the grey voters have a propensity to actually get out and vote on polling day, and you can see why politicians say they take your concerns seriously. But do they?

Think about it. Ask yourself what you really want in a new government. Do you want Fine Gael and Labour to trundle on with the bailout, puffing up their chests but really just managing a crisis which is mostly beyond their control? The safe option can often seem attractive.

Maybe you would like someone to stand up to Europe a bit more, but do you really want Sinn Fein to tell them to f*** off, or Paul Murphy to trap them in their cars. Maybe you think Fianna Fail has been in purgatory long enough to learn their lesson, and a re-invigorated version of that party could be refreshing. Or perhaps it could be Shane Ross and his Independents or Stephen Donnelly or Lucinda Creighton with some new ideas.

Whichever it is, think about it and don't wait till election day to make your feelings known. Tell them what you think now. Then when it comes to vote, you can decide who you think has actually been listening to your concerns and will really do something about them.

Sunday Independent

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