It is a peculiar feature of industrial society that the old are treated as socially redundant and Thanks for the Memory, this week’s Brass Tacks (8.10 BBC2), examines the implications.
For years pensioners have been fobbed-off by governments who have dispensed formal handouts like charity. But, because pensioners, by definition, are no longer part of the work-force they have little or no collective clout. Recently there have developed pockets of organised political action among the over-60s, but they have come to believe their best hope lies in the TUC whose annual conference this week will include a debate on early retirement with fixed benefits.
Brass Tacks editor Roger Laughton feels that, though many people sympathise with pensioners, the over-60s are powerless: “They feel that their skills are discarded, but who can they argue with?”
A group of London pensioners are interviewed about their life, attitudes, and expectations for old age; in the studio Maggie Kuhn, activist, leader of the American over-60s movement, the Grey Panthers, explains why she believes in a militant approach to the rights of the elderly.