This week’s blog from our General Election Series focuses on Age UK’s General Election Rally, which was held on Tuesday 24 March 2015.
Yesterday, Age UK held a General Election Rally event to give older people the opportunity hear from representatives from the five main political parties about their policies to make the UK ‘a great place to grow older’.
Although the media coverage over the last 24 hours has focused predominantly on the audience’s heckling of the Prime Minister, our first speaker, there was much more to the day.
50 Questions, 5 speakers
Over the course of the day, the older campaigners, who travelled from as far afield as Cumbria and Cornwall, and as close by as North London, asked over 50 questions of our five speakers: the Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP (Conservatives), Paul Burstow MP (Liberal Democrats), Liz Kendall MP (Labour), Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Mark Reckless MP (UKIP).
The discussions and debates that ensued were vivacious and passionate – the older campaigners were not shy about making the most of the opportunity to get their points across and they did so with style and vast political knowledge.
Dennis, 91, challenged the Prime Minister to introduce an Older People’s Minister to the Cabinet, and an array of other issues like the NHS, free bus passes and the level of the state pension were discussed and debated.
In addition the rally was also an opportunity to gather our valuable older campaigners together – both those who were in the hall, and those across the country who engaged on social media and with our campaign postcards – to talk to them, to celebrate them and to make sure their voices are heard.
Older people given a voice
Delegates had the chance to meet other groups, share practical knowledge and experiences, and to socialise. One attendee, Maggy, said getting to interact with so many fellow campaigners was the most important aspect of the day.
Our delegates left feeling over the moon with the experience and enjoyed being involved from start to finish. Mary, who didn’t get back to her Norfolk home until almost midnight, emailed us as soon as she could – as she said: “All the folk I chatted to felt valued and given a voice. I was full of the day and talked endlessly on our journey home.”
Lastly, our thanks should go to those people who made the event the success it was- people like Mary, Dennis, and their 250 fellow older campaigners who headed to London, ate their fish and chips, and took action to make sure their voices were heard.
On 7 May 2015, we will all vote to choose our future MPs and the next UK Government. It’s vital that once elected our politicians act on the issues that affect older people, today and tomorrow. Ask your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates to become Age Champions