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Grey army.

Pensioners are heading for Blackpool in their thousands this week.

But it is not to walk on the prom, visit the Tower ballroom or to take a look at the striped deck chairs which it's said tourism chiefs are considering phasing out in favour of something trendier and more appealing to younger people.

What has attracted so many of our pensioners to the Fylde coast, including a nine strong contingent from Huddersfield, is something much more akin to that familiar annual seaside spectacle, the party political conference.

Note that here we are talking party politics with a pair of small ps. Because the only common cause uniting this group of people is not so much mainstream party stuff but admittedly special interest issues.

That is not to say that older people are uninterested in many of the things that the rest of us expect our political masters to lead on and to be directed on when we the voters think it necessary.

But it has quickly become apparent to all perhaps except the leaders of the big three political parties, that politics these days doesn't seem to be inclusive of at least one part of the community.

And politicians beware. That part of the community which is clearly feeling underwhelmed by what it is getting from those it votes into office, is growing.

People are living longer and hopefully more healthily into old age. Growing frustration with the way in which they are treated by government and to some extent by society, is making them want to make their voices heard on a wide range of issues from health provision to pensions.

Meeting in such large numbers, 2000 delegates are expected in Blackpool, signals a determination to be taken seriously. And it's not just the politicians who should be listening.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:May 19, 2004
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