Can the Tories manage the lockdown endgame without alienating their key voting group – the over 70s?

Can the Tories manage the lockdown endgame without alienating their key voting group – the over 70s?

YouGov – GE2019 Result age split

Continued incarceration simply based on age could have an electoral price

GE2017 might seem a long time ago but TMay’s government saw on that day what can happen when the oldies are hacked off. It might be recalled that there was marked decline in the numbers of over 70s actually voting following the fury over the “Dementia Tax”. The turnout change amongst the oldies was far greater than other age groups.

Could the lockdown endgame produce a similar or even more furious reaction from those over 70s who are relatively healthy and want nothing more than to see their grandchildren again?

Simply saying that the lockdown should continue based solely on age is going to be very controversial. Sure certain groups are going to have to continue staying at home but the criteria needs to be more than just when they were born.

Earlier in the week there was an interesting interchange in the House of Lords (average age 70) on the matter setting out the issues. One very vocal voice was Ros Altman, the former Conservative Pensions ministers and head of Saga. This is part of what she said:

I have real fears that ministers are considering blanket bans to prevent older people leaving their homes during the current crisis. Ministerial responses suggest government advisers may be seriously recommending using chronological age as a criterion for deciding whether people will be allowed to leave their homes. Such policies are normally the mark of authoritarian regimes, not a mature democracy. Collective punishment based on age should be no more acceptable than using gender, ethnicity or body mass index as defining factors. Blaming the virus is not a valid justification. These are conscious policy decisions. Isolating all older people, if others are allowed out, also risks damaging their physical and mental health.”

Already about 1.3m people who have serious conditions have received letters from Government about their situation.

Mike Smithson

Comments are closed.