ANGRY OAPs have told Boris Johnson they’ll never forgive him if he breaks a Tory pledge to keep TV licences free for over-75s.
Earlier this week the PM told the Mirror the BBC should “cough up”, to keep the licences free, meaning the Government won’t.
The dismayed pensioners told Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson yesterday how the benefit is a lifeline for many, including veterans.
Ex-Army cook Jim Tennant, 70, branded the PM’s decision not to keep the Tory pledge “mean and dishonest”.
He said: “I would tell him to keep his promise – if he doesn’t, a lot will never vote for him or his party again.”
Mr Watson threw down the gauntlet to the PM when he visited the Age UK Onneley Centre in Birmingham. He said: “People think he is a liar anyway, he has lied about his private life and about policy.
“There is an easy thing for him to do to rebuild some trust.
“That is why I am challenging him to honour Labour’s pledge to back the free TV licence for the lifetime of not just this Parliament, but the next one as well whenever it comes.”
Mick Horton, 63, who served 12 years with the 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, pointed out that the £154.50 a year they now face paying will put many OAPs in the red.
He said: “This is going to do a lot of harm to pensioners and veterans in particular. People are proud and they don’t want to be seen asking for help. My neighbour is 94 and lives alone – the sound of her TV is how you know she is OK. “The Tories have come for our TV licences and they’ve raised my wife’s retirement age. What next? Is the winter fuel allowance safe?” Another former solider Bob “Knobby” Clarke, 72 with 31 years in the Royal Signals, said that for many ex-serviceman the TV is a chance for some company and support in difficult times.
“I visit my former Sergeant Major, he’ll speak about his family, but the other thing that keeps him talking is TV – speaking about what he’s seen.”
He also stressed how telly also helps people with dementia: “They Jim makes his point, below, Tom with OAPs know if Good Morning Britain is on they should have lunch and if the News at Ten is over it is time for bed.
“It makes me furious to think of Boris Johnson taking that from people who’ve worked their whole lives.”
Carol Goult, 63, said that for her 95-year-old father, who died earlier this month, the TV was a friend that allowed him to explore the world when ill health confined him to just four walls: “He loved Blue planet and the Discovery channel.
“Boris Johnson should come here and talk to people about what he is taking from them.”
Alan Powell, 75, an ex-street furniture fabricator from West Bromwich, laid out what for most is the biggest injustice: “I worked my whole life in a dirty job which is now affecting my health.
“For so many, the TV makes all the difference – and that extra expense is going to mean so many aren’t going to be able to live out the end of their lives how they would have wanted.”
In 2017 the Conservatives made a manifesto promise to keep free licences for all over-75s. But the BBC was made to fund the benefit from June 2020 and is likely to restrict it to 1.5 million OAPs on Pension Credit. More than 900,000 veterans are among 3.7million pensioners set to lose the perk.
More than 18,000 have backed The Mirror’s campaign for the Tories to reverse their stand while 634,334 have signed Age UK’s Switched Off petition – handed to No10 – calling for free licences to be kept and the Government to fund them.
Last night a Government spokesman shifted blame, saying: “We are very disappointed with the BBC’s decision. We expected them to continue free TV licences.”
More than 18,000 have backed the Mirror’s campaign for the Government to be the ones to “cough up”.