Anorak News | The Youth Votes

The Youth Votes

by | 27th, February 2006

‘HOLD onto your baseball cap, William Hague, there’s a new initiative to woo the yoof vote.

You should have seen him at 16

There are few things less edifying, and more amusing, than watching career politicians – the kind of people who joined and led all the clubs when at school, and didn’t even inhale the smoke from an illicit joint – attempting to connect with the youngsters.

But there is a cunning new plan. The Power Inquiry “set up in 2004 to explore how political participation and involvement can be increased and deepened in Britain” (see the PI’s youthful blog) argues that the voting age should be lowered from 18 to 16.

The thinking is that at 16 you are adult enough to engage in the political debate. Only, as the Telegraph points out: “The creation of a new class of juvenile voter…might, perversely, further reduce the proportion of the electorate participating in elections.” The young don’t have much time for the politicos, so why would they vote for them?

Ask yourself this: how many people do you know who are members of political parties (not including MPs). And how many of those are under the age of 18?

Perhaps the proposal should go further. Perhaps it should be more radical? The youngest MP is Jo Swinson, MP for East Dunbartonshire (born: 05.02.80). As it stands, you have to be at least 21 to stand for parliament. When you are 16, 21 looks old.

Whatever the numbers, Gordon Brown is for lowering the voting age. Writing in the Guardian, in a piece entitled “We have renewed Britain; now we must champion it”, Brown looks at democracy and sees “low turnouts, youth disengagement, falling party membership and a long-term decline in trust – problems that owe more to our political system than our civic culture”.

And lowering the age at which citizens (under New Labour we are no longer subjects) are able to vote will “address disengagement among the young”.

That’s if the young are even listening. And can be bothered to vote…’

Posted: 27th, February 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink