Friday, 16 October 2009

More name calling at Brighton Council

Greens are committed to ending age discrimination, in the workplace and wider society.

I believe it should be unlawful to either sack someone - or refuse to hire someone - because of their age. Further, employers should be forced to consider flexible working arrangements - and provide suitable Occupational Therapy services - to ensure older staff can continue to work as long as they are able.

Social care should be free at the point of delivery, carers should be paid for their work, and pensions should be higher - making sure no older person is left in poverty and forced to choose between heating and eating.

Of course this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the ways in which a Green MP would fight for a fairer, better deal for older people. Green MEP Caroline Lucas has worked with several victims of 'pension failure' and voted to oppose an EU-wide mandatory retirement age, opposed UK plans to limit adult education for older people, and to make it easier for older people to travel through the EU.

There's a good outline of our age discrimination and equal treatment policies here, and a summary of our position on pensions here.

Indeed, the Green Party's policies on giving older people a fairer deal was one of the reasons I joined the party in the first place.

All of which led me to do something of a double-take last week when, responding to an invitation to a training event for younger councillors, fellow Brighton and Hove councillor David Smart (pictured) said he considered the email concerned 'ageist' and asked whether the Green Party, which he claimed 'had spoken out strongly ... against ... older councillors', was behind the invitation.

Perplexed, I checked the records - I can remember Green councillors defending older people's services (and rights) on many occasion since being elected a councillor in 2007, but never 'attacking older councillors', strongly or otherwise.

Of course I couldn't find anything (though I do recall praising the Greens' contribution to making the council more like the population of the city as a whole, including boosting the numbers of 'younger councillors' if that's what hemeant).

So I contacted Cllr Smart and asked him to send me a reference - either point me to a record of what was said, or a link to the official webcast of the meeting - or, if he simply imagined the whole thing, to apologise for his mistake.

And, of course, he couldn't find a link or reference of any sort to the line - of course because we never said any such thing. In the Green Party firmly believe in a fairer city and a better deal for older people. We are deeply opposed to any age discrimination, and would never 'attack older councillors'.

I can only assume this is a new political tactic from the Conservative Group on the council: call the Greens names (based on a misunderstanding of our position) and hope we'll go away.

Last week, we were communists - this week we're ageist. I guess by next week we'll be racists and by November child-murderers!

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