THE UK electorate will age rapidly over the coming generation. Much has been written about the public spending pressures from this ageing population, but the ability of the growing numbers of older voters to exercise power at the ballot box is rarely mentioned.
Much-needed reforms in areas such as pensions are likely to be thwarted by the sheer weight of the grey vote while policies will be adopted that lead to far more government resources being allocated towards older people. The grey vote will mobilise and become increasingly important.
It might be thought that we need not worry about the ageing of the electorate because we can assume that voters will not tend to vote in their own financial interests but, instead, vote according to strongly held political principles or in the "general interest" of society.
Unfortunately, that is not true. Although people vote different ways for a whole range of reasons, the principled or habitual Conservatives tend to cancel out the principled or habitual Labour supporters, leaving interest groups with significant power at the ballot box. Indeed, theory and evidence suggests that the old are an especially powerful interest group at elections.
Their specific interests, as far as government policy is concerned, are relatively focused on issue