Grey Power is a term used to describe the rising predominance of those aged over 60 in British Politics.

The birth of Grey Power

Those born during the post-war baby boom years are now approaching retirement age, causing massive changes to the demographic of the country. Politically, this is enhanced by the relatively high proportions of political activity in the old, compared to the much discussed apathy of the younger voters. This generation was young during the Swinging Sixties and were raised on political activism and they are showing no signs of letting go of this tendency, and as the population ages, political parties will have to produce more pensioner-friendly manifestoes.

The first signs of Grey Power dissatisfaction are already emerging with the formation of pensioners action groups. Currently concentrating on the recent high rises in council tax against the low raises of state pensions they are beginning to make their presence felt, especially in the South-West where a number are already at court following civil disobedience protests involving refusing to pay tax increases.

The problems

A switch in political emphasis from the young to the old could have startling consequences for society, sometimes called an agequake. Any party that can improve life for the elderly by raising state pensions and other benefits, improving retirement prospects or finding other ways of appealing to the older voter, indeed in the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections a party called 'Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party' won one seat, pledging to battle pensioner poverty*. Unfortunately, these changes could only lead to the already apathetic younger voter becoming more disenfranchised as they find their own taxes rising to fund changes in the way that pensioners are treated. A particular problem will be the massive increase in investment need by the National Health Service because of an aging (and therefore, generally less healthy) population. Younger workers in the future may be forced to work longer hours for lower net-pay.

Possible Solutions

One suggested solution to this problem is to encourage immigration of younger skilled workers. This would probably be relatively easy to implement (especially is we believe what we are told about millions trying to enter the country every day). This would only be a temporary solution, though, and would actually worsen the situation in the long run. The large number of immigrants needed to earn money to help the old would, in turn, themselves become an even larger aged population needing even more young people to pay for them. It is easy to see how this can quickly become a destructive feedback loop.

Changing employment patterns could help the situation. people are generally healthier towards old age than they were decades ago so retirement age could be increased therefore allowing the government to collect tax from them for a longer time. At the other end of the spectrum, young adults could be encouraged to leave education and start work, opposite to the current trend of persuading them to go to University. This, again, would help to produce more tax income (and possibly a less clueless population ;-)

Another solution would be compulsory euthanasia. This would certainly sort out the problem quite quickly an easily, however, it do feel that it may be seen as rather extreme and would probably meet with severe resistance ;-)

* Thanks to Catchpole for this information :)

National Statistics:
BBC news:

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