Friday, February 25, 2005

Southampton Pensioners Rally

Marched off from the Bargate at 1.30 and headed for the Civic Centre where there were speeches (seven - probably too many) followed by questions. One of the speakers was Joe Harris from the National Pensioners Convention and in the break he was telling us that he had seen one unfortunate marcher fall over. It is not clear whether the standard of pavement was a contributory factor but what is clear was that as the gentleman fell his words were "Bugger Blair!" I hope he is OK.

What was becoming apparent as everyone spoke was that the Lib Dems are closer to the NPC way of thinking than any other party. This is interesting because research by Age Concern shows that we are not the main party of choice for pensioners (even when looking at a range of pensioners). As a party we clearly have to do more to connect and one of the challenges in the next few months is finding ways to make sure that we get our message across.

There was also some debate about how to refer to older people.

OAP is a definite "no-no"
Pensioner - acceptable by some
Senior Citizen - seemed to attract some support but as someone who believes in equality I struggle with this one as the word "senior" somehow implies "better"

My ultimate conclusion was that whatever you say you can't win but my personal preference is to dirch the concept of the "grey" vote (drab, boring imagery) and start talking about "silver" (precious). Semantics? Maybe but the bottom line is that we should stop being so obsessed by language and concentrate on the issues.