Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tory truths

I was surprised to recieve a comprehensive reply from Conservatives.com to a brief email about voting age. The position of the tory party is to be commended, I wish they'd talk about it a bit more as an issue though! Perhaps they don't want to bring it into the public mind unnecessarily, although I'm confident the status quo arguments would win through when it does.

Dear Mr Coates,

Mr Howard has asked me to thank you for your recent email and to reply
on his behalf.

The Conservative Party is very concerned that levels of political
participation among young people are currently so low. We are
determined to do all we can to ensure that this apathy is challenged and
the younger generations are given every opportunity to feel connected
with the political process.

We do not believe, however, that lowering the minimum age of voting to
16 would be the correct way forward in tackling political apathy among
young people, and we are very pleased that the Electoral Commission has
reached this same conclusion. As research carried out by the Commission
shows, the underlying reasons behind such low levels of participation
are deep-rooted and structural, encompassing a broader feeling of
alienation from the political process. Making technical adjustments
such as lowering the voting age would, therefore, do little to help

Instead, we feel that we should focus our energies on highlighting the
relevance of the political process to younger people, demonstrating that
politicians are listening to young people and are developing policies
which respond to their needs. We also believe it initially important to
address the low-levels of turnout amongst those young people who can
vote, but choose not to, before we even consider extending the franchise
to even younger ages. At the same time, we should consider this issue
within an international context, as a clear majority of countries have a
minimum voting age of 18. We do, however, perceive the present gap
between the age at which one can vote (18) and the age at which one can
stand for election (21) to be illogical and we are therefore fully in
support of reducing the age of candidacy to 18.

Thank you again for taking the time to write

Yours sincerely,
David Beal
Office of the Leader of the Opposition


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