Sunday, 4 May 2008

Freedom? What Freedom?

I am currently disenfranchised, as Mr Grumpy didn't want me to register as living at his house, so I had no chance to vote in the election for London Mayor. If I had done, I would certainly not have voted for Boris. Having reached 'a certain age', and as a lifetime non-driver, I couldn't wait to get my Freedom Pass. Bus travel is essential where I live, to get to the shops and station. On my miserable income, I certainly couldn't afford to spend five or ten pounds getting to where I am meeting a friend, before even buying my coffee and cake.

The Freedom Pass is the one thing that makes getting old and poor a little easier. It is a perk I feel I have earned after a lifetime of paying into the system. I jumped for joy when I heard that the free travel pass was to extend to most of the country. Yet the Tories pledge to take this benefit away, and the free bus travel for under sixteens. Do they think everyone has cars and don't need it? What about the elderly who develop bad eyesight, like my father did, and have their driving licence taken away? Is it fair to doubly clobber them by making them pay for bus and tube travel? And what about making Britain greener? Free travel passes mean fewer cars burning our dwindling resources and polluting the atmosphere.

I fear the Tory Party have always been the Selfish Party, pledged to make the rich richer, hoping the poor will crawl under a stone and not bother them. Well, I have every intention of bothering them. In the Sixties, I was a CND member and went on Ban the Bomb marches. For the last forty years I have been a 'sleeper' in terms of political protest, but now my dander is up, my sense of justice is fuming and seething away and if it comes to forming a political pressure group - the OAP Party, perhaps (Angry Old Pensioners), or the PPR Party (Protect Pensioners' Rights), or even the SOF Party (Save Our Freedom), I shall do it.

I have a trailblazing hero, an elderly neighbour called Kevin who made a stand for pensioners by refusing to pay his council tax, protesting that it wasn't right that elderly retired people on miniscule pensions should be made to pay the full amount. He was taken to court time after time, but eventually ill-health forced him to give up his solo fight. What the over sixties need is more Kevins. People who don't just moan about it but get out there and do it. For now, I shall bide my time, but if there is the slightest whiff of Boris axing the Freedom Pass, I shall be in his face, guns blazing. Well, metaphorically at least.

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