NPC RALLY FOR THE RETENTION OF THE FREE TV LICENCE FOR THE OVER 75s. HELD IN LONDON ON THE 7TH MARCH 2019.
Myself and Dick Hewlett attended the rally on behalf of the Branch and also as delegates to the Eastern Region of the NPC.
We began the rally outside the Department of Culture Media & Sport at Westminster. Paul Routledge of the Daily Mirror gave a bullhorn speech to the delegation who had travelled from all parts of the country and represented various Trades Unions and many other pensioner organisations.
We then went to Portcullis House to meet and lobby MPs, oddly only Labour MPs turned out, members from the Dept of Media Culture & Sport declined the invitation. Those in attendance were MPs, Emma Lewell-Buck, South Shields, Tam Dehsi, Slough, Sharon Hodgson, Washington & Sunderland West and Jack Dromey, Birmingham Erdington who is also the Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary. Other guests included Dr Miriam Stoppard who writes a regular column for the Daily Mirror, a representative from AGE UK also attended.
Each speaker made telling contributions, Miriam Stoppard reflected on loneliness and isolation being a big factor in mental health with one in three pensioners over 65 living alone leaving with little contact from the outside world, with the TV being their only support to end this feeling of loneliness.
All the MPs gave their support to having government take back the responsibility of funding the free licencefrom the BBC irrespective of whatever the consultation findings the BBC have undertaken. Jack Dromey made the point that Pensioners built Britain and deserve a happy and healthy retirement. A sacred duty of any government is to support them and you can count on Labour to be 100% behind us.
Jan Shortt, the NPC General Secretary in closing said that the campaign must continue to be fought, if this is lost, what next, the bus pass, our winter fuel allowance and so on and so on. Also, irrespective of the Brexit outcome, it could be at least 2022 before the next general election. This fight is not just for to-days pensioners but for those to come.
Mick Goldsmith & Dick Hewlett