The arguments against lowering the voting age seem odd to me. Some are immature, others have a limited life experience. But these are points that can be made against people in any age group. Watch some daytime TV or stand outside bars at closing time and you can find plenty of people from all age groups who really shouldn’t be responsible for our safety and security!
Others say they are innocent or naive. But is that worse than the cynicism middle-aged people like me sometimes have?
Democracy is about balance, and right now it is not balanced. In fact, it’s stacked against young people.
I have found 16 and 17 year olds to be incredibly thoughtful, insightful, and passionate. I spend a lot of times in our schools and one thing that strikes me is that when I do Q&A’s it’s very rarely education that comes up, it’s the nuclear deterrent, the economy, housing and climate change. Young people may have a more limited set of experiences than others, but they have an insight and ambition for our country that we need to recognise.
Right now we are poorer as a society because we are loosing out on the wisdom and insight of younger people and that is something I want to correct.
I’m teaming up with Lord Andrew Adonis and in the coming days and weeks we will be finding ways on introducing into the Commons and Lords legislation that will do three things: Firstly to lower the voting age to 16. Second to have all young people automatically added to the voting register. And thirdly, for every educational establishment with a certain number of eligible voters to have a polling station sited there on election days.
Just like we adapted systems to accommodate people with mobility issues or working patterns that prohibit attending polling stations by introducing postal votes, we must adapt to make democracy more accessible for young people too.
Right now Labour has a brilliant policy offering for young people, but don’t think I’m doing this for party political reasons. If this happens all parties will adapt their offering. I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do.
Brexit, the economy, spending decisions by government, and the future ability of people to live and work and travel abroad are all being taken by this parliament. Young people will be affected most but they have the least say. It is an imbalance in power that I want to change and I’m already in touch with MP’s from all parties to make it happen.
Please let me know what you think, especially if you’re a young person….it’s time for your voice to be heard! All the best, Peter