Experience and enthusiasm are the best combination in life and I saw it in spades on South Tyneside.
Our area was paid a fantastic tribute by the hugely respected National Pensioners Convention picking Jarrow for the second year running to hold a prestigious gathering.
Somebody could make a fortune if they found a way to bottle the wisdom, passion, respect, wit, dignity and fighting spirit I saw, heard and felt in Perth Green Community Centre.
They even had the consideration to make a respectful tribute to our famous Jarrow Crusade. Senior citizens have much to teach us and have seen it all before so how scary when a Tory Government is winding the clock back with echoes of the era of the Marchers!
People shouldn’t be struggling to make ends meet in the world’s sixth biggest economy in the 21st century or be worried about falling ill because a cash-starved NHS is wobbling on knackered legs.
Tory Prime Minister Theresa May should remember the old warning about people lying down with dogs catching fleas when the US fibber-in-chief will put America First and have the rings off her fingers before she can squeal “Britain Second”.
He’s a US nationalist and a protectionist – who agrees with state torture – whose trade deal with Britain could see American companies fleece the NHS.
May enjoys gallivanting around the globe, posing for photos with other leaders, to distract attention from the woes at home with living standards falling this year when inflation rises faster than wages.
The pensioners meeting in Jarrow had seen it all before and know the talk about the elderly having never had it so good before is another Tory lie.
The basic state pension currently stands at a lowly £119.30 a week which is appalling.
On that you’d have to live another 806 years just to match the £500,000 the former Tory Chancellor George Osborne pocketed in a matter of months from speeches.
He’s the Conservative who imposed wicked austerity on Britain to dump men, women and children on the scrapheap.
Evidence of this lies on our own doorstep with referrals to foodbanks across South Tyneside rocketing by a whopping 400 per cent since the Tories walked into power almost seven years ago.
Oh, and he’s just picked up a money-spinning earner with a US speculator called BlackRock which would squeeze you dry given half a chance.
Inequality in this country the Jarrow Marchers of 1936 would recognise means the super-rich, the 6,500 Fattest Cats worth £20m plus each, pay £1 billion LESS tax between them under the Tories while the rest of us pay £23 billion MORE.
And at the same time 1.6 million pensioners are classed as living in poverty with another 1.2 million just about scraping by.
That pensioners are still forced to choose between heating and eating and this is shameful.
The crisis in social care, and it is a crisis, is a direct result of brutal Tory cuts robbing services of £4 billion a year.
Here our South Tyneside Council’s suffered £100m of Tory cuts since 2010 – equal to £660 per household.
What’s even more galling is Age UK calculates 1.2 million older people don’t currently receive the care they need.
I’m proud the last Labour Government extended free bus passes and introduced winter fuel allowances and free TV licences for the over-75s.
And I promise we’ll do more, much more, back in power. Our pensioners deserve a better deal.