Daily Telegraph - New equality rules could cost companies millions (Louise Peacock) - Equality is equality so why the moaning from the National Association of Pension Funds - surely not another body that thinks it is OK to discriminate against men.
At the end of last year the site highlighted the hypocrisy of the feminist movement in complaining about bringing the equalisation of the pension age for men and women forward to 2018. Equality does not mean equality if changes effect women more than men is their mantra.
It had all gone quiet but now the tanks are on the move as the legislation comes soon.
Ros Altmann, the director general of the 50+ Saga group goes on the offensive (literally) in the Telegraph. She said the 'changes are discriminatory' and affect 500,000 women. The Guardian reports that a campaign is brewing and reports further today that the campaign has been launched by Unions Together with their Hands off our Pensions campaign. Linda Murray has started a petition.
It is hard sometimes in writing for the blog not to become angry about the sexism and the sexist attitudes toward men and pleas for special treatment for women in areas like this.
Altmann forgets that for 70 years millions of men have been discriminated against because the state retirement age has been later than women's and they live shorter lives. Where is her complaint there, where was she and Saga campaigning for the equality of pension ages on behalf of their male members. As for the male members of Unions Together - what do they think?
Analysis from the Men's Network showed that men live 13 years in retirement whilst women enjoy 20 years. No mention from Saga and Unions Together on that point?
Equality means equality and men have been the most discriminated group when it comes to state pension age. For anyone to claim otherwise shows they have no sense or belief in what equality really means. They purposely only have one eye open.
The government has to stick to its guns if it believes in equality.
Amongst the voluminous coverage, announcements and suchlike from yesterday's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) was the announcement that the state pension age for men and women would be equalised at 66 from 2020, rather than 66 for men from 2016 (as previously suggested by the Coalition Government in Opposition and in power) and 66 for women in 2020 as had been suggested in June's Budget. Equalisation at 65 will take place in November 2018.
This was an increase from the last Government's plans to make the state pension age 66 in 2024 and 65 for both genders in 2020 (are you still following?).
It was due to the sterling work of Parity that we have equalisation at all otherwise the five year sexist gap would still be with us in the future rather than just today.
There are a number of important issues here.
Firstly, this site raised the issue that the move (as did Parity again) would be sexist against men and it looks as though the Government has also realised that if it went ahead it would be subject to legal challenge by increasing the gap between men and women's retirement age from five years to six. Sites like this help raise these issues because anyone researching it would have read the post.
Secondly, when a move like this which has greater implications for women than men, draws all the anti-male sexists out of the woodwork.
Anti-male in that they never complained about the blatant discrimination that has meant men have a retirement age five years shorter than women (even though men lives are shorter) for decades and they never publicly complained when it was mooted that male retirement age should be brought forward to 66 in 2016 without any commensurate change to a women's retirement age.
Step forward our friend Ceri Goddard at the Fawcett Society for a particularly frenzied rant about this and also other issues raised the CSR. The recession, of which the budget cuts are a symptom, decimated male employment in the private sector but not a peep from Goddard about that even though it would have affected wives, partners, daughters etc. A theme we have picked up before. Honestly, if you were a man in Fawcett Towers when George Osborne was speaking yesterday you'd have to run to the hills!
Others came out of the woodwork as well, who glibly 'accepted' that previous plans were more harmful to men as this statement by the Saga Group shows.
Dr Ros Altmann, the director general then astoundingly has the nerve to let fly by stating that "Women ar bearing the brunt of the changes. Pension policy always seems to be made by men for men. Women are being sent a simple message - keep on working. That's what the Government's announcement means."
Since 1948, state pension has been paid to women at 60 and men at 65, it is only in 2018 that this injustice against men will be rectified, some 70 years later. And Altmann says pension policy is always against women. Unbelievable. I wonder what the male members of Saga think of her 'balanced' statement.
A good look at this and other issues about the effect on the genders was produced by Mark Easton of the BBC.
Despite years of campaigning by groups such as Parity it's still very much the case that men in the UK are discriminated against when wanting to retire, having to wait five years longer than women to receive their state pensions. The present coalition government even proposes widening this disparity and believe men should wait until they are 66, despite the fact that men contribute far more in National Insurance and die much sooner than women too.
Fortunately there is now a way to avoid such discrimination and for men to receive the money that is rightfully theirs. Quite simply, if men who've worked hard all their lives wish to retire five years early and receive the extra £25,000 afforded to women all they need to do is to cut off their penis before their 60th birthday.
Such a fact was illustrated this week with the case of Christopher Timbrell who had a sex change operation at the age of 59 though still remains married to his/her wife. Due to the couple remaining married, Timbrell, along with millions of men had been denied a state pension between the age of 60 to 65. However the Civil Appeal Court order that the decision had breached European equality laws and thus those such as Timbrell were entailed to up to £25,000 in backdated payments.
The court case itself featured all manner of discussion about whether or not two women can be married with the government's defence being the Timbrells would received "preferential treatment" over any other couple. It doesn't' appear to dawn on any of those involved that millions of women receive the very same "preferential treatment" over their male counterparts every single day. If we actually had equality in retirement ages all these ridiculous debates and layers fees could be done away with as we'd simply just treat everyone the same, regardless of what genitalia they have, or what gender they happen to identify themselves as.
I don't wish this piece to be construed as insensitive to the now Mrs Timbrell or people who decide to have a sex change and I realise that their cases involved a lot of anguish and more than a simple operation. In contrast to your average transphobic gender feminist I really don't care what people do with their bodies or what gender they wish to be and I'd actually like to congratulate Christine on defeating the government's sexism, albeit using a method that might not have mass appeal. In fact as an alternative to surgery men could surely just identify as a woman for five years order to receive their pension, with this case setting the precedent that they can even remain married.
In a wider context it's important to note that the benefits of changing one's gender in the UK aren't limited gaining tens of thousands of pounds or having five years extra off work, that's just the tip of the iceberg. On top of such incentives there's the prospect of getting into Parliament much more easily, significant help with your business, a promotion at work, exclusive leisure and educational facilities and even perhaps even a get out of jail free card too (and certainly a reduction on any sentence). The Timbrell case is a stark reminder of the discrimination faced by men today, despite many welcome signs and making some of the right noises in some areas, the fact is that the present government wishes to increase the pension gap rather than introducing equality.
In conclusion, I'd say it's fantastic that equality laws are used to help transsexuals, but how about actually using legislation to stop discrimination against those who are happy to remain as men too?
Although the media have been painfully silent in examining the Conservative policy of increasing the pension's gap, they haven't failed completely. Credit for tackling key election issues goes to 5 Live's Stephen Nolan, who as well as looking making a certain deputy leader look rather foolish, also raised the problem of pension's discrimination with Jeremy Hunt of the Conservatives.
Strangely, Hunt had little knowledge of his own party's policy to raise the state pension age for men to 66 whilst still letting women retire at 60. Despite this, Hunt still defended the policy, informing Nolan he was "absolutely sure we’re not discriminating against men but I don’t know the details".
Fortunately we do know the details of the Conservative policy on this site and we've even conducted the relevant financial calculations. In all, the Conservatives are going to take nine billion pounds away from men aged 65-66 and use the money to fund women's pensions. This will enable women to continue to retire far earlier men, despite the fact women also enjoy significantly longer life expectancies and have generally paid less into national insurance. Quite frankly about the only person who you'd expect to deny claims of sexism here is Harriet Harman herself.
In all fairness I suppose such discrimination isn't likely to have too much impact on men such as Mr Hunt given his £4.1 million wealth, though I'm sure even he'd appreciate he could buy nine hundred billion 1p phone calls with the money he's happy to deny men.
The fourth manifesto I've decided to review is that of the UK Independence Party.
The manifesto is a relatively brief and uncontroversial document. Unlike the three manifestos I've reviewed so far there's nothing remotely discriminatory or offensive in the UKIP policies and the document actually seems more concerned with all people rather than just specific identity politics. This is reflected in the section on pensions, which merely promises £130 to everyone over the age of 65. It's not stated explicitly, but this suggests they'll be equalising the retirement age, which certainly puts them ahead of the other parties and in particular the Conservatives who want to widen the gap. This really would be a really positive step if true.
Other positives to the manifesto is their promise to cull political correctness and to focus on manufacturing jobs rather than unnecessary "non-jobs", clearly something that would help the huge number of unemployed men who are the real victims of the recession. There's also a strong recognition that the education system is failing, with the party noting the reduction in standards and quality of teachers.
The most noticeable negative aspect of the manifesto is the how the party completely fails to mention the issue of family breakdown, never mind offering any solutions. Even New Labour have been forced to admit there might be something wrong with their Family Courts, yet the UKIP seem so obsessed with Europe that the issues has passed them by. Similarly, issues such as male life expectancy, healthcare, domestic violence and false allegations are completely ignored.
Clearly the manifesto is rather right-wing, with the obvious downside of this being the party's approach to crime. There's no mention of civil liberties or innocent prisoners, and given that the party is ignorant of family breakdown issues then the vast numbers of new prisons they want to build will almost certainly be filled with disadvantage young men from single parent or no-parent families and perhaps more Fathers 4 Justice protesters.
Really there isn't much on offer in the manifesto either way in terms of equality. Incredibly, that alone actually makes UKIP preferable to the offerings of the Labour party or the Greens and perhaps even the Conservatives. Ultimately it's rather uninspiring stuff - more the sort of document that makes you just want to stay at home and watch TV instead of actually bothering to visit the polling station.
Part three of our review of manifestos for the election takes a look at the Conservative's offerings.
By far the most concerning item in the manifesto is the Conservative policy on state pensions. At present men have to work five years longer than women to get a pennons despite the fact that they've put in more hours at work on average and thus contributed far more in taxes on average. On top of this, male life expectancy is rather poor in the UK (a fact which even the manifesto even touches on) and as a result your average woman can expect to receive some £81,000 in pension payments in her life, compared with £55,000 for a man.
Such is the unfairness of this situation we even have excellent groups such as PARITY campaigning for pension's equality and even Labour finally agreed to end this sexism one day far into the future. So what's the Conservative policy here? Are they going to equalise retirements ages as soon as possible and live up to their promise of "change"? Well actually, the manifesto promises change, but change that makes the problem even worse! They propose raising the retirement age to 66 in 2016, but only for men. Women will continue to be able to retire at 60 right up until 2020. Thus we'll have a six year difference in retirement ages instead of the present five and £49,000 paid to men compared to £81,000 for women. By my calculations the total sum the Tories will be denying men over the four years is a staggering nine billion pounds. Further still, David Cameron suggests the money is going directly to women so that they all get a full pension, I don't think I've ever seen a more sexist idea.
Obviously such a policy instantly rules anyone interested in equality out of voting for the Tories, which is perhaps a shame given that its proposals do contain a few positives. The first thing of note is the more incisive language used in the document. There's no sexist terminology anywhere to be found. For example the two party manifestos I've reviewed so far focus on the trafficking of women for sex, whereas Conservatives address "people trafficking" which is far more appropriate given forced labour is a massively larger problem. As most people know, the issue of women trafficked for purposes of prostitution has been blown out of all proportion by Labour.
The Conservative's plans in eduction also appear quite reasonable from an equality perspective. They recognise how broken and the current system is, not to mention how devalued qualifications have now become and appreciate the need to focus on core subjects such a maths and science. They also promise more challenging activities for especially gifted pupils, as well as help fro the least able. The Conservative perhaps don't' realise but this is in fact a gender, given that boys dominate both extremes of the intelligence spectrum. More significantly, they specifically mention the issue of false allegations against teachers and promise to protect staff.
Further help from the falsely accused can be found in the section on crime, with the Conservatives promising to remove innocent people from the government DNA database and instead replace them with convicted criminals. Other positives include numerous polices from helping those in the armed services, most notably policies helping them after leaving, and also support for married couples thus helping to remove the current financial incentives for divorcing. Finally there's a commitment to shared maternity leave, which is certainty preferable to Labour's 4 weeks for fathers and 52 for mothers.
However, overall the document is something of a disappointment. Whilst you fell the party has their heart in the right place, the generally feeling you get from the manifesto is that while the Conservatives mostly understand what's important, they really don't seem to quite have the right solutions yet and still seem out of touch. The polices on marriage are commendable for example, but you get the feeling the Conservatives just want to push the clock back to a different era. The party recognises more needs to be done in terms of contact after separation even recognising that we have " some of the worst rates of family breakdown in the world", yet there's no actual commitment to shared parenting. Yes they mention false accusations, but why restrict such polices to the teaching profession when the issue can ruin anyone's life regardless of their profession? The problem isn't schools in this instance, it's society as a whole and the lack of punishment and prosecution of the crime.
Similarly there are also concerns with the Conservative's "Big Society" theme. Concerns about government bureaucracy, waste and interference are sound, but the Conservative approach also brings concerns. For example they want to see charities proving public services, but in some areas that's already the case to some extent. Take domestic violence for example, do we really want to hand even more power to gender feminist organisations such as Women's Aid and Refuge so they can continue to deny help to male vicitms and pretend most of them are making it up?
In conclusion, it's a decent enough document for the most part, but the pensions policy is so horrific it essentially cancels everything else out. It shows us the traditional Conservative way of hurting men is still alive and well. Whereas the Labour party hates men due to it's gender feminist influence, Conservatives harm men through chivalry. The pensions policy shows they expect men to work even harder and longer than women for less reward. It sends out the message that men are an expendable resource to exploit, rather than people deserving of equal treatment and you have to fear that such an attitude will find it's way into other areas of policy. It's all very well coming up with decent education and civil liberties polices, but no one is going to take your seriously if your idea of pensions reform is to ring-fence women's income whilst his taking £9 billion from men to fund it.